Instead, the ace Briton, who contested a partial WRC campaign with the Anglo-German make in 2011, will be in action on the Orchard Motorsport Lurgan Park Rally in his native Northern Ireland this Saturday (28 July).
The 33-year-old, who scored MINI’s maiden Power Stage victory in the world championship on last season’s RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, hasn’t competed since Wales Rally GB in November 2011. He was happy to accept the invitation to take part on his local event in a Derek McGeehan Motorsport-prepared MINI alongside stand-in co-driver and personal sponsor Gerry McVeigh.
“There have been other offers [for drives this season] but I’ve learned to be a bit selfish and ask ‘what’s in it for me in the longer term,’” Meeke told Motorsport News. “With this one, though, the rally means a lot to me personally so I thought, ‘why not?’”
Meeke’s links to the parkland Tarmac rally date back to 1980 when his father Sydney prepared the Ford Escort that Bertie Fisher used to claim victory on the inaugural event. Meeke has fond memories of the rally, which he has contested on one previous occasion: “I remember hiding in the hedge at Lurgan to watch Mikael Sundstrom in the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, it’s one of my fondest memories.”