The Brit claims second victory of the year, as Ogier closes in on fifth consecutive title.
Meeke mastered the final two legs of Rally RACC Catalunya - Rally de España to win by 28.0sec in a Citroën C3, just three rounds after his form sank to such a low that he was dropped from the team.
Ogier fended off team-mate Ott Tänak to claim second by 5.0sec. Title rival Thierry Neuville retired on the final day with broken suspension and Ogier can secure the crown at the penultimate round in Britain.
Their M-Sport World Rally Team moved within touching distance of a first manufacturers’ title since 2007. The Ford Fiesta pair need only finish in Britain, irrespective of their overall placings, to take the championship.
Meeke’s strong pace on the opening leg’s gravel roads laid the platform for victory. He swept into the lead on the morning of the penultimate day when the surface switched to smooth asphalt, and rounded off a dominant display by winning five of the final day’s six speed tests.
“It’s not so important how many times you’re knocked down, it’s more important how many times you stand up again,” said Meeke, as he celebrated with wife Danielle and two young daughters.
“It’s a special, special win. I remember walking up this road 20 years ago to watch Colin McRae in 1997 in a Subaru. Back then I didn’t even dream I’d drive a rally car here myself.”
Handling problems hampered Ogier but tweaks improved the set-up and he reeled off three stage wins on the afternoon of the penultimate day of the mixed surface rally. Tänak was handicapped on the asphalt by a gravel-specification gearbox and the Estonian could not catch his colleague.
Tänak moved to second in the standings, a point ahead of Neuville for whom a troubled weekend left him playing ‘catch-up’. He took one risk too many when he entered a left corner too quickly and had to make a deep cut in the following right bend.
The Belgian hit a stone and broke the front right wheel, leaving his championship dream in tatters. “After some problems we had no choice than to push hard and that’s what we did. There are no regrets,” he said.
Juho Hänninen maintained his good form with fourth in a Toyota Yaris, but team-mate Esapekka Lappi crashed out of sixth when he slammed into a barrier.
Toyota could be in for some better luck from next year, however, as Estonian sensation Tanak was announced as a shock signing for the Japanese manufacturer. Tanak has been marked as a star of the future for at least five years and his performances this year, he is now second in the standings, makes him hot property.
The 30-year-old Estonian has long been linked with Toyota and his decision to swap a Ford Fiesta for a Yaris World Rally Car spells the end of Juho Hänninen’s time at the team.
Tänak’s current contract means he is unable to comment, but Toyota team principal Tommi Mäkinen was elated his hunt was over.
“We’re delighted to have secured the services of Ott, having had our eyes on him for a while. He represents the perfect blend of youth and experience, together with the right sort of mental attitude that means he will fit into our team very well.
“Like the Yaris WRC, Ott has exceeded all expectations this year, so I’m sure it will be a strong partnership with both speed and consistency on all surfaces,” he said.