We have work to do admits Meeke after brave display in Monte Carlo
It was some consolation, and a welcome bonus, at the end of what Kris Meeke described as a horrendous weekend.
A fighting finish to the Monte Carlo Rally saw the Ulsterman grab fourth place and take away the five bonus points for fastest time on the final Power Stage, leaving him and co-driver Paul Nagle tied third in the World championship after round one.
But Meeke wasn't happy, not after ending up four minutes behind World champion Sebastien Ogier, who won for the fifth time, his C3 Citroen struggling in treacherous conditions which ranged from pouring rain to snow and slippery ice.
"It has been a nightmare, horrendous," he said. "I couldn't get a good feeling with the car and then when it dried out at the end I had to put everything on the line but that's not good enough."
From the moment he spun on ice and reversed his Citroen into a ditch on Thursday night, Meeke was on the back foot but determined to "grind out" a result. From 10th place, he dragged himself up to sixth, then fifth and found himself in a last stage fight with Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville to stay there.
That's when the Meeke "do or die" spirit came out and he blazed his way to fastest time to not just stay fifth but move to fourth after former Circuit of Ireland winner Esapekka Lappi put his Toyota off the road, dropping to seventh.
But it couldn't hide the fact the Citroen team were again off the pace of Ogier's M-Sport Ford and the Toyotas of Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala who filled the top three places. With Craig Breen finishing back in ninth it was a grim-faced Meeke who said: "We have work to do."
Meanwhile, Derek McGarrity dominated the first rally of the local season, the New Year Stages, at Kirkistown, the eight times NI champion winning by 23 seconds in his S14 Subaru.But there was a fierce fight for second place between the R5 Ford Fiestas of Mark Massey and Philip Allen, Massey just edging out young Philip, son of former NI champion Glenn Allen, by a second at the end of the six stages.
The Subarus of Kenny McKinstry, Paddy McVeigh and Kevin Barrett completed the top six.