Belfast Telegraph

Meeke thrilled to get behind wheel for Hopkirk gala

Sammy Hamill

KRIS Meeke is joining the cavalcade on Saturday which marks Paddy Hopkirk's Monte Carlo Rally victory 50 years ago.

Meeke, now leading the Citroen team in the World rally championship, will be joined by his co-driver Paul Nagle to drive a Citroen DS3 R3 in the parade from Stormont to Belfast City Hall and on to Titanic Quarter.

"Paddy has been a huge supporter of my rally career in recent years and I'm delighted to be able to join him this weekend. Having finished on the Monte Carlo podium myself just a few weeks ago, I've a fair idea how tough it was for him to make it to the top step," said Meeke who will shortly be on his way to Mexico for the next round of the World championship.

Hopkirk himself will lead the 200-car cavalcade in a replica of his 1964 winning Mini Cooper and he is to be joined by great motorsport names from the past including 1981 World rally champion Ari Vatanen, Circuit of Ireland record holder Jimmy McRae, two other former winners Adrian Boyd and Cahal Curley as well as Belfast's five-times grand prix winner John Watson.

After leaving Stormont at 10.30am, the cavalcade will make its way to the City Hall where Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir will correct a 50 year oversight.

After his Monte win in 1964 Hopkirk was given the Freedom of the City but, somehow, he was never presented with the official scroll.

Better late than never, it will be handed over on Saturday morning.

The cavalcade will then continue to the Titanic Quarter where the cars will be on display ahead of an autotest starting at 12.30pm.

A sell-out gala dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hopkirk's victory, and featuring Phil Coulter, will be held in the evening.

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