Kris Meeke got his first taste of the new Renault Clio he drives in Rally Catalunya on the “shakedown stage” which proceeded today’s start to the Spanish round of the World championship.
Meeke, from Dungannon, has been called in to drive the Renault Sport Clio R3 in place of Serbian Milos Komljenovic and was immediately on the pace in yesterday’s test stage close to the rally’s base at Salou.
He was 20th fastest overall, but second quickest of the two-wheel-drive contenders behind the Citroen C2 of Junior World champion-elect Sebastien Ogier.
Meeke was just four-10ths of second slower than Ogier, but ahead of all the other JWRC drivers including Donegal’s Shaun Gallagher, second in the Junior series standings, who was seven seconds slower in his Citroen C2.
Meeke was also quicker than a number of the four-wheel-drive WRC cars, among them the Subaru of new Irish Tarmac champion Eamonn Boland — who was four seconds slower— and Gareth Jones, also in a Subaru.
And he was five seconds faster than Gilles Schammel who drives another R3 Clio for the same Interspeed team as Meeke.
World champion Sebastien Loeb was fastest overall ahead of his Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo and Ford’s Francois Duval.