Belfast Telegraph

Kris Meeke happy to set early pace as he strives to find consistency

 

Fast start: Kris Meeke is again quick out of the blocks
Fast start: Kris Meeke is again quick out of the blocks

By Sammy Hamill

It was a tongue in cheek remark but with more than a grain of truth. "We've got the beginning and the end sorted - now we need to get the bit in between right," said Kris Meeke.

He was referring to his record of setting quick times in the shakedown stages ahead of rounds of this year's World Rally Championship and then finishing off by winning the final power stage. Mistakes and misfortunes in between have cost him podium places.

And the Dungannon driver began the build-up to this weekend's Rally Portugal with the second quickest time in the shakedown stage, his Toyota Yaris just a tenth of a second behind the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville.

It was in Portugal last year that Meeke's Citroen contract was terminated, the French team sacking him after his car had been destroyed in a huge crash.

Far from ending his career, he has bounced back with Toyota and is fourth in the World Championship standings but frustrated he hasn't been able to turn strong performances into victories. Despite last year's big crash, it is a rally where he has excelled, winning in 2016 and leading in each of the last two years.

And yesterday Meeke showed he is happy to be back on the Portuguese stages, just fractionally lower than Neuville in the shakedown and quicker than his Toyota team-mates Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala. The target over the next three days is to match his early pace with consistency all the way through to Sunday's finish.

Locally, the Triton Showers Irish National Championship resumes on Sunday with the Circuit of Munster with Josh Moffett looking to build on his early lead in the series.

The reigning Irish Tarmac champion has won two of the first three rounds and heads the entry list in his WRC Ford Fiesta.

Four winners of the National series - Donagh Kelly, Declan Boyle, Roy White and Peadar Hurson - line up behind him, all in WRC Fords.

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