WRC: More woe for Kris Meeke in Rally Finland

Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle won Rally Finland in 2016, the third of their four WRC victoires

Kris Meeke's World Rally Championship return hit more trouble on Saturday's final stage of Rally Finland.

The Dungannon driver lost nearly a minute after striking a rock, which caused a puncture and damage to the front of his Citroen C3.

Meeke still runs in eighth place on his first rally back after being dropped by Citroen for Rally Poland.

Finn Esapekka Lappi leads into the final day, with Teemu Suninen and Juho Hanninen completing the top-three.

A bent suspension sustained on stage 10 hampered Kris Meeke's progress on Friday, with the issue not fully fixed overnight.

"The steering issue is not significant compared to the other things we need to look at," said Meeke midway through Saturday's loop.

"We have to continue to try to work with it but it is difficult at the moment."

The World Rally Championship tweeted a picture of the damage Meeke sustained on stage 21

After a crash-filled start to the season, Meeke's aim was to stay out of trouble on the tricky Finnish forest stages, an event he won in 2016.

Trips off the road in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Portugal, Argentina and Italy, along with an engine failure while leading in Corsica, have ruined Meeke's hopes of a title challenge despite a dramatic victory in Mexico.

The rally has been dominated by the home drivers, with Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala leading fellow Finns Lappi, Suninen and Hanninen for most of the event before a mechanical problem forced him to retire on stage 19.

Lappi now holds a 49.1 second lead going into Sunday's final four stages in only his fourth rally in the main WRC category.

Welshman Elfyn Evans is the top non-Scandinavian driver in fourth, with Meeke's Waterford team mate Craig Breen in fifth.

Championship leader Sebastian Ogier has retired from the event, with M-Sport's four-time WRC champion breaking his suspension over a jump.