For today’s half-term driver report, we assess how well Citroen’s Kris Meeke has performed during the first seven rallies of the 2014 season.
Having never driven a complete season as a factory driver, Meeke entered 2014 knowing he was facing a steep learning curve. Not only would be learning a number of new events, but he’d also be finding his feet in a new WR Car and working closely with a new team from France.
The season got off to a magical start as Meeke netted a fine third place at Rallye Monte-Carlo. But his confidence quickly drained with a hat-trick of poor results in Sweden, Mexico and Portugal.
His inexperience in Sweden showed as he lost seven minutes buried in a snow bank, then three separate crashes in Mexico and Portugal heaped a whole lot of pressure on the 35-year-old’s shoulders.
A mature drive to third place in Argentina restored some confidence before Meeke’s stop-start season resumed with an alternator failure in Sardinia and a puncture in Poland that meant the highest he could finish was seventh.
With seven rallies down, Meeke sits seventh in the world championship standings. He’s shown some impressive bursts of speed on occasion and he will be pleased with two podiums, but his inexperience has let him down and cost him valuable points. He needs to put that right if he’s to fulfil his undoubted potential in the second half of the season.
There’s no better way to kick off your debut full season than scoring a podium at the treacherous Rallye Monte-Carlo. Meeke’s measured and confident approach kept him inside the top three places after all but one of the stages and his third place was fully deserved – particularly as he’d never driven on Michelin’s winter tyre before the rally.
Meeke’s debut at Rally Mexico was largely one to forget. Okay, he was fourth early on day one but things went wrong shortly afterwards when he crashed not once, but twice. The second incident, which led to his retirement, was beamed live to millions around the world as it happened on the rally-ending Power Stage. Oops.