Kris Meeke has carefully sidestepped the row surrounding the selection of young English driver Adam Gould as his team-mate for next week’s Rally of Scotland.
On five of the European rounds of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, tyre supplier BF Goodrich provides a fully-funded opportunity for a driver from the host country to join Meeke’s Kronos Racing team and take part in an identical Super 2000 Peugeot 207.
It is one of the most prized drives on offer in international rallying and recipients this year have included Sebastien Ogier, who won the Monte Carlo Rally, and new Junior World champion Martin Prokop.
The selection of Gould for the British round starting in Perth next Thursday has caused outrage, not least here in Northern Ireland where two young Ulster drivers, Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer, outscored him in this year’s British championship.
Indeed, Gould had the benefits of a virtual works Subaru and funding for the season from rival tyre manufacturer Pirelli under their Star Driver scheme but still lost out to the Ulster youngsters.
But they didn’t even make the final shortlist of five which had been drawn up from the original 32 applicants. These included two other Ulster drivers, Niall McShea and Martin McCormack, and the likes of multi-British champion Mark Higgins, but Gould, who finished sixth in the British series, was chosen by a panel of judges to make his IRC debut alongside champion Meeke in Scotland.
The Ulsterman has promised to do all he can to help Gould adjust to the S2000 Peugeot.
Meeke said: “I don't know what to expect from Adam, I've never met him. I've followed the British championship a little bit this year, but that's been about Mark Higgins and Keith Cronin.
“I'm more than happy to help him. I remember when I was in his position, I would be asking advice from absolutely everybody and I'm sure Adam will be the same.”