Belfast Telegraph

Meeke off to a flyer but Toyota team shaken by Tanak setback

Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke toasted "a good start" after setting quickest time in the shakedown stage ahead of last night's start to Rally Mexico.

But there was a shock for his Toyota team when World championship leader Ott Tanak's Yaris stopped mid-stage and had to be towed back to the service park in Guanajuato.

A team spokesman described it as "only a sensor issue" but it deprived Tanak of the opportunity to properly prepare for the opening super-special stage through the town streets.

Meeke, who won in Mexico two years ago, was fastest on his first run before slipping to sixth, but returned later to knock the Hyundais of Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville off the top spots.

Meanwhile, it says much about the line-up for next week's West Cork Rally when drivers of the calibre of Marty McCormack, Tom Cave, Callum Devine and Jonny Greer can't make the top 10 seeding list.

The St Patrick's weekend event, which is a round of the Irish Tarmac and British championships, has attracted the best entry under the current R5 rules since the European heyday of the Circuit of Ireland in 2016.

Led by five times West Cork winner Donagh Kelly in his Skoda Fabia, the first 24 cars are all in the R5 category, with no sign of any of the contentious WRC cars, which are able to take part but are not eligible for either championship - all of which makes for a level playing field and a potential battle royale between the Irish and British protagonists.

Behind Kelly's Skoda, the World championship exiled Craig Breen, the Galway International winner, is seeded second ahead of reigning Tarmac champion Josh Moffett and leading Ulster contender Alastair Fisher.

British champion Matt Edwards, winner of last season's Ulster Rally, is at five, with 2017 Tarmac champion Sam Moffett completing the top six, all in R5 Ford Fiestas.

The Skodas of Robert Barrable, David Bogie and Ulsterman Desi Henry are next in line, followed by the Fiesta of current Irish National champion Declan Boyle down at No.10.

Only then do we get to other potential winners like McCormack, Cave, Devine, Greer, Daniel Cronin and Manus Kelly.

Belfast Telegraph

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