Meeke left in limbo as Mini sell off his seat
Kris Meeke will miss the Rally of Sweden after Patrik Sandell was named as Dani Sordo’s Mini team-mate for the event.
Already replaced by Corsican Pierre Campana for next week’s Monte Carlo Rally, Ulsterman Meeke will now sit out round two of the World championship while the cash-strapped Mini team, run by British-based company Prodrive, continue to sell his place to drivers who can afford the near £200,000 price tag.
Campana is backed by the French Federation and former Junior World champion Sandell comes with sponsorship from the Sweden World Rally Team.
Significantly he also has the backing of BMW/Mini Sweden, the Swedish importers and there are indications he will have further outings after his home event.
Meeke, who has a three-year contract with Prodrive, has been sidelined since it was revealed just before Christmas that the Mini team had not registered for the 2012 World championship and did not have the money to field two cars this season.
It appears the failure to land a sponsor and a dispute between Prodrive, who have been responsible for the development of the Mini Countryman WRC, and Mini’s parent company BMW are at the heart of the trouble.
On-going issues over promotion and television coverage are said to be contributing factors.
North One Sport, the promoters and TV rights holders, had their contract terminated at the weekend, leading to the lay-off of 40 staff and motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, is seeking a replacement — likely to be Eurosport.
Former Intercontinental Challenge champion Meeke, from Dungannon and his Killarney co-driver Paul Nagle remain contracted to the team but unless the cash crisis is resolved soon, it seems they will be confined to a support role in the near future.