Blessed is the Meeke team

WHEN Kris Meeke arrives on the Coffs Coast in September for the upcoming round of the World Rally Championship it’s a good bet that he’ll have an angel on his shoulder as he tackles the local forest roads.

At the start of Meeke’s rally driving career he was fortunate enough to get the support of the late great Colin McRae.

McRae and his brother, Jimmy, spotted Meeke’s potential, and keen to support an up-and-coming talent they invited Meeke to take part in a driving assessment test.

The impression he created was enough to convince McRae Motorsport to fund Meeke’s British Junior Rally Championship assault in 2002, which culminated in Meeke taking the title.

The fact that the Northern Irishman was behind the wheel at all was a surprise.

Meeke never harboured ambitions of becoming a rallying superstar even though he was exposed to the sport from an early age through his father Sydney, a well-known car preparation expert.

Instead he was more interested in pursuing a career in mechanical engineering, in which he achieved an honours degree from Queens University in Belfast, which led to a job as a CAD designer at M-Sport.

Then things changed.

Meeke entered – and won – a rookie rally driver competition with Peugeot UK, which led to a season in the make’s 106 Super Cup in 2001.

Meeke was renowned during Junior WRC days as someone who was “crash happy” but his driving skills have matured since those early days.

A chance meeting led to the 31-year-old landing a drive with Peugeot UK in the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

With wins in Brazil, Azores, Belgium and Italy, Meeke clinched the title with one round remaining.

Even though his title defence in 2010 proved to be unsuccessful, a long-term deal with MINI in the WRC was his from 2011.

 

FAST FACTS

  • Name: Kris Meeke
  • Nationality: Northern Irish
  • Date of Birth: July 2, 1979
  • Car: MINI World Rally Car
  • Team: MINI World Rally Team
  • Co-driver: Paul Nagle
  • WRC Debut: Great Britain 2002
  • Website: www.krismeeke.com