Meeke, who was taken to hospital and later released after precautionary checks, and co-driver Paul Nagle were fortunate to escape what was a frightening crash into the trees.
“I turned into a fast left-hand corner a little bit late,” said Meeke. “I missed my line and got onto the loose gravel on the outside of the corner and lost control of the car.
“Obviously, I’m sorry for the whole team, who clearly deserved better. I’m really, very grateful they built such a strong car.”
He added: “It was my mistake, of course, so I’ll take it on the chin. But the feeling in my C3 WRC was so good here in Portugal that I can’t help but take the positives away from this weekend.”
Team principal Pierre Budar said: “Obviously, it’s disappointing for us to see Kris and Paul go off the road, but we are above all relieved that they have escaped more or less unscathed.”
Meeke’s teammates Mads Ostberg and Craig Breen are running sixth and seventh respectively.
Source: Story by David Evans Motorsport.com. Image: Motorsport.com