A home win at last for Kris Meeke?
The 2009 champion Kris Meeke knows he will not win the IRC title for a second time this year, yet he remains one of the fastest drivers around, if not the fastest of the current S2000 runners. This weekend, at the wheel of his Peugeot 207 S2000 Evolution, he will be out to avenge the cruel stroke of fate that deprived him of victory in Scotland this time last year.
The Scottish forests: perfect territory for the 207 S2000 Evolution It was practically a year ago that Kris Meeke had victory snatched from his grasp because of a minor administrative infringement after dominating the first RAC Rally of Scotland to count towards the IRC.
"I still haven't got over it," admits the Peugeot UK driver. "The Scottish forests are crisscrossed by some of the world's most selective gravel tracks. Many of the countless ultra-fast corners are blind and there's very little grip. Terrain like that brings out the best in the balance and nimbleness of the 207 S2000. I would especially like to show as much again this year following the recent introduction of the Evolution version of the Peugeot which made its debut in Sanremo. The car is now more competitive than ever."
"Scotland was the home of my friend and brother Colin McRae" Kris is not Scottish since he hails from Northern Ireland, but he has always had a weak spot for the country. "Scotland was the home of my friend and brother Colin McRae. Without him, my rallying career would never have got off the ground."
Convinced that the young Meeke had talent, the 1995 World Rally Champion backed the Ulsterman financially for a number of years to provide him with a helping hand. Sadly, McRae was killed in a helicopter accident three years ago.
"Last year, before it was taken away from me, I dedicated my win in Scotland to Colin. I frequently think of him when I'm driving through these forests. He was unbeatable here, and my only wish is to equal his record. To achieve that, my best ally is the 207 S2000 Evolution which is such an easy, efficient car to drive."
Similarly, Meeke feels like an older brother to Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg's Thierry Neuville, 22, who is about to get his first taste of the niceties of British forest rallying.
"My only experience of gravel competition with the 207 S2000 to date was Sardinia, in June," observes the upcoming Belgian youngster. "The stages there were hard-packed, narrow, slow and twisty. They had little in common with what I expect to find this weekend. I hear there's practically no grip and that you're on a knife edge all the time. My main objective will be to improve over the two days. I know I will be able to count on advice from Kris, and the handling of the 207 S2000 Evolution does wonders for your confidence. That will be especially important in Scotland and I hope I succeed in paying that back with a top finish on Sunday afternoon."
The Rally of Scotland will see Burçu Cetinkaya continue her apprenticeship of international rallying in the Peugeot Turkey-entered 207 S2000, ahead of a more ambitious campaign in 2011.
Last but not least, four of the RAC Rally of Scotland's stages will benefit from live coverage on Eurosport:
Saturday, October 16
11:00am-12:00 noon (Eurosport): Errochty 1
5:30pm-6:30pm (Eurosport): Errochty 2
Sunday, October 17
11:00am-12:00 noon (Eurosport): Loch Ard 1
1:45pm-3:00pm (Eurosport): Loch Ard 2