Belfast Telegraph

Meeke’s unique Rally tune-up

By Sammy Hamill

It may not be everyone’s idea of the perfect way to prepare for the most important World championship rally of your career to date but to action man Kris Meeke it was “great fun”.

With Rally Deutschland just days away, and his third appearance with the John Cooper works Mini team, Meeke took time out to win the Irish Kart Grand Prix!

With recent memories of Sebastien Loeb breaking his shoulder in a mountain bike accident and Renault F1 ace Robert Kubica suffering potentially career-ending injuries in a rally crash, Meeke’s Mini bosses must have been holding their collective breath as he dashed away from an appearance at the Richard Burns Memorial Rally in Norfolk on Saturday to wheel out his 150mph superkart at Nutts Corner on Sunday.

But no need to worry. Despite having to fight his way through a field of Ireland’s top karters, Meeke came out unscathed to become Grand Prix champion.

“I really loved it,” he said. “A new lap record for Nutts Corner and 16 laps at an average speed of 153kph. It was great fun.”

But now his attention switches to the serious business of Rally Deutschland where he and team-mate Dani Sordo continue their acclimatisation to the World championship with the fledgling Mini team.

After initial appearances in Sardinia and Finland, team boss David Richards says their priorities in Germany are different.

“We have high expectations going into this rally,” he said. “The Mini has shown a great promise in recent tarmac tests in Germany and Italy and both drivers have told me how much confidence they have in the set up.

“Unlike Finland, where our priority was to get valuable competitive mileage, in Germany we will be looking for both drivers to begin to demonstrate the true performance of the Mini.”

Also in action on the Trier-based event will be Alastair Fisher and last year’s Ulster Rally winner Craig Breen.

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