Monday | 10 Nov 2014

GB Countdown: One to Watch

With both FIA championships decided, victory at the WRC finale Wales Rally GB is the last big prize on offer this season. And for Citroen’s Kris Meeke, there’s an extra incentive to pull something special out of the bag.

No British driver has won the event since the late Richard Burns’ completed a hat-trick of triumphs back in 2000, but with Meeke, who hails from Northern Ireland, among this season’s front-runners, another home victory may not be that far away.

Since joining Citroen at the start of this season, the 35-year-old Ulsterman has notched up four podiums and taken the fight to Sebastien Ogier on many occasions. It’s a performance that should be enough to earn him a full-time drive in 2015.

His position as part of the Citroen family was underlined last week, when he joined team boss Yves Matton at the Rallye du Condroz Huy and took a sensational second overall in an R5-spec DS3.

So with his feet under the Citroen table, we reckon this week Meeke can enjoy a pressure-free push for his maiden WRC win in front of his home crowd.

Meeke flew a V8 Bentley through a Wales Rally GB stage in 2012

“I’ve really enjoyed my first full season in the WRC, and competing on Wales Rally GB will be the icing on the cake,” admitted Meeke, whose most recent attempt at the rally came in 2011, when he finished fourth at the wheel of a Mini Cooper JCW. His 2012 appearance, driving a stage in a 500bhp Bentley Continental GT for the BBC’s Top Gear programme, doesn’t really count.

A lack of recent experience certainly won’t help, but Meeke can draw upon his long history on British Championship events that stretches back to 2000. Plus of course he can expect huge support from the locals.

“It’s the closest I get to a home rally in the WRC. I even took part in my first ever rally, the Bulldog, in these forests. So I know the region very well even though I have only competed in Wales Rally GB once in the last eight years. I love the atmosphere here, the tradition of the event, even the smell of the mud in the forests,” he added.

“It would be great to finish the season on a positive note. I know I’ll get plenty of support from the many fans who would love to see me win. I’m going to do my best to acquire as much experience as possible, but I think that a podium finish is a realistic goal.”

Let’s see if he remains as modest after the rally starts…

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Video preview: Wales Rally GB