Kris Meeke hoping to get back to basics
It may have proved a sensational hit on Youtube but Citroen bosses won't be pleased if Kris Meeke tries to repeat his high flying act from the Fafe Rallysprint on this weekend's World championship Rally of Portugal.
The Ulster driver flew his Citroen DS3 almost 50 metres off a huge jump in the popular pre-rally sprint last weekend, the car soaring above the heads of the tens of thousands of spectators who packed the Fafe arena before landing on its nose and snaking its way on towards the end of the stage.
How Meeke kept it under control is anyone's guess but he did and the footage from the live TV streaming, as well as spectator cameras, has been repeated all around the world on social media. Great publicity for Meeke and for Citroen but such heroics are not in the gameplan this weekend. The team want a strong but steady performance from him and he has promised to cool it.
After an encouraging podium finish on debut in the Monte Carlo Rally, minor accidents in Sweden and Mexico proved costly for him and the team, notably in the all-important manufacturers' championship. Despite demonstrating his ability to challenge at the front of the field his mistakes will not have impressed Citroen who gambled by sacking last year's drivers, Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo, and pairing Meeke with Norwegian Mads Ostberg.
A potential top three finish in Mexico was wrecked when he hit rocks and damaged the Citroen's suspension. He thinks he was unlucky and feels frustrated but says: "Driving the car in our pre-Portugal tests has lifted my confidence again.
"Mexico was a difficult rally and very frustrating in the end but now I need to put that behind me and rack up more miles in the car. That will be my main objective in Portugal. It is another all-new rally for me but if I can keep out of trouble then the result will look after itself."
Irish involvement stretches beyond Meeke with former British junior champion Marty McCormack making his debut for the Hankook Ford Fiesta team in the WRC2 division where he will line up against the familiar face of Robert Barrable.
And Alastair Fisher starts his campaign in the WRC3 category driving an R3 Citroen DS3.