Kris Meeke finishes fourth in Australia after controversial penalty

Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke crashed out while leading in the previous WRC round in Germany

Kris Meeke had to settle for fourth place in Rally Australia after his hopes of podium finish were wrecked by a controversial 61-second penalty.

Meeke, competing for the Citroen team, was handed the penalty for cutting a corner on one of Saturday's stages.

That dropped the Dungannon man to fifth spot and while he moved ahead of Mikko Hirvonen on Sunday, he could not catch third-placed Andreas Mikkelsen.

Meeke finished 1 minute and 44 seconds behind winner Sebastien Ogier.

World champion Ogier saw his overnight 11.8-second lead over his Finnish team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala trimmed to 6.8 seconds but the Frenchmen held on to secure his sixth win of the season.

Norwegian Mikklesen, like the top two also driving a Volkswagen Polo, finished one minute and 18 seconds behind Ogier with Meeke a further 26 seconds back in fourth.

It was Ogier's 22nd career win and his sixth of the season, edging him closer to a second consecutive drivers' title.

Ogier leads Latvala by 50 points with three rounds remaining and he is in position to clinch the world title at his home rally next month, with the manufacturers crown already secured by the Volkswagen team following the Australia results.

"Jari-Matti was strong but today I knew that without mistakes I would be okay," Ogier said.

Meeke moved back into fourth during Sunday's stages as he finished 9.6 seconds ahead of Hirvonen's Ford Fiesta.

Last month, Meeke suffered huge disappointment when he crashed out on the final day of the German Rally while leading.

The Northern Irishman has achieved three podium finishes this year but has yet to win a World Rally Championship round.

Meeke will hope that his performances this season prove enough for him to retain the Citroen drive for 2015.

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