Unlike circuit racing, in which drivers memorize a set track, the FIA World Rally Championship competes on stages that are miles long and have dozens of corners. As a result, drivers often have to think on their feet, but usually not this much.
During Sunday’s Rally Mexico, Kris Meeke made a mistake during the final stage that spat his Citroen C3 into a dirt parking lot adjacent to the course. After clipping one car as he barreled into the lot, Meeke had to find his way back to the road through a cloud of dust.
“I made a mistake, a big mistake,” Meeke said, according to WRC’s official website. “I braked and got the car too sideways through this fast right, and as I hit the compression it popped me out and we went into a field. After that I was in the hands of the gods.
“I started to go through some trucks and they started to narrow up. I thought I was going to come to a dead end so I hand-braked around a truck to go back the way I came, not knowing there was a way out until I saw a gap in the fence and went for it.”
Luckily for Meeke, he had a roughly 40-second lead in hand heading into the last stage. So even after his calamity, the Irishman finished P1, 13.8 seconds ahead of Sebastien Ogier in P2. However, he didn’t realize it at the time.
“I’m not particularly delighted with myself but we’ve won the rally, so I’m happy,” Meeke told WRC. “I had no idea I’d won when I crossed the line but quickly people started shaking their fists and then I knew. I’m sure Yves Matton (team principal) will shake his fist at me later for a different reason!”
Meek isn’t the first racing driver to end up in a parking lot mid-race, though he is definitely one the first we’ve heard of to search for the exit while still at race pace.
Thumbnail photo via Red Bull Content Pool