Fired-up Kris Meeke silences critics with big display ahead of German rally
Kris Meeke showed he hasn't been deterred by criticism from his Citroen bosses by setting third fastest time in the shakedown stage ahead of last night's ceremonial start to Rally Deutschland.
He had been warned his place in the Citroen team for next season is in doubt after crashing on each of the last three rounds of the World championship, but yesterday Meeke was back showing he has the speed to challenge the all-conquering Volkswagen team.
Meeke split the VW trio, third fastest behind Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen but quicker than World champion Sebastien Ogier as he completed preparations for a rally he led on the final morning last year only to crash out.
VW's director of motorsport Jost Capito defended Meeke this week, saying he was the biggest threat to his team.
The Dungannon driver said: "Finishing on the podium here is a realistic goal. If I manage to be consistent and keep out of trouble, I know that we'll be at the front."
Craig Breen was fifth fastest of the WRC2 contenders in his Peugeot T16 behind the Skoda Fabias of Nasser Al-Attiyah and 2014 Circuit of Ireland winner Esapekka Lappi. Yuriy Protasov (Ford Fiesta) and Jan Kopecky (Skoda) were third and fourth.
Marty McCormack is also in the start list in his Tiger Risk Skoda.