Belfast Telegraph

Kris Meeke out to make the most of Madeira experience

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke began the Rali Vinho Madeira today hoping to capitalise on the experience gained from last year.

“This rally, and the island itself, were completely new to me last year and I quickly learned that experience of the winding roads is the key,” explained the reigning Intercontinental Challenge champion from Dungannon.

“I felt I did pretty well to finish fifth!

“Most of the corners – and there are hundreds of them - are blind so the first time you do the rally it’s hard to find the ideal lines, the ideal braking points and the exact moment when you need to turn in.

“I’m hoping last year's experience will be a big help this time around.”

And in contrast to the majority of rounds of the IRC series, where he is usually fighting with the Skodas of Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky, Meeke was predicting the biggest threat might come from fellow Peugeot pilot Bruno Magalhaes.

It is home ground for the Portuguese driver who finished a close second last year and underlined his increasing potential with victory ahead of Meeke in the Azores last month.

“We know the Peugeots are very strong on asphalt and I expect Bruno will be incredibly fast here. He’s very familiar with the stages and his confidence is high after his Azores win,” said Meeke.

Victory for Magalhaes in the Azores elevated him to third place in the IRC drivers’ standings, 18 points behind Hänninen while Meeke is 25 points adrift of the Finn.

Meanwhile, 2007 Northern Ireland champion Glenn Allen is a late addition to the starting list for tomorrow’s sixth round of the Hankook series, the Dogleap Rally.

Allen has hardly been seen in the past 18 months but returns to drive a McGeehan Motorsport Toyota Corolla on the Limavady based event in which another former champion Kenny McKinstry heads the line-up.

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