REIGNING CHAMPION MEEKE LOOKS AHEAD TO HIGH SPEED RALLY OF SCOTLAND Reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge Champion Kris Meeke says 2010's RACMSA Rally of Scotland (15-17 October) is "going to be like threading a needle at 120mph" due to the...
REIGNING CHAMPION MEEKE LOOKS AHEAD TO HIGH SPEED RALLY OF SCOTLAND
Reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge Champion Kris Meeke says 2010's RACMSA Rally of Scotland (15-17 October) is "going to be like threading a needle at 120mph" due to the event's spectacular high-speed stages through the forests of Perthshire and Stirlingshire.
Rally of Scotland is the penultimate round of this year's high-profile IRC - in fact it is the only UK event on the IRC calendar which, during its season, also takes in premier events in South America and mainland Europe. This coming weekend (23-25 September) teams, cars and drivers will be in action in Italy's riviera San Remo round before arriving in Scotland just three weeks later.
But Northern Irish ace Meeke, who will be in action in his Peugeot 207 S2000, says out of all the countries the IRC visits it is Scotland that stands out above the rest in terms of a driving challenge.
He comments: "Every event is unique of course but this one is a bit extra special. These are some of the best gravel stages in the world bar none. Scotland is a very fast rally with a lot of the stage miles flat in fourth, fifth or sixth gear - there are some big ditches and lots of trees but getting right makes it very pleasurable for a driver. It is going to be like threading a needle at 120mph."
Meeke, a former protege of Scotland's late rallying hero Colin McRae, also believes Rally of Scotland's dramatic setting will appeal to both die-hard and casual motor sport fans alike - organisers have this year cut ticket prices (admission for children aged 15 & under is FREE) and offered greater access to stages.
He adds: "The sport has something really special in terms of atmosphere and spectacle, Scotland in particular because of the scenery which is just incredible. You take anyone out into the forests and watch these cars being driven on the limit sideways, let them listen to the noise of an S2000 car getting closer and it will instantly make the hairs on the back of their neck stand up. It has that kind of magic about it.
"The crowds can really get behind the teams and drivers because the cars they see in action are similar to the ones they drive on the road. Rallying is also set against a real backdrop - it's not like F1 which is a made-up environment."
Meeke won 2009's Rally of Scotland 'on the road' only to have that victory removed because a minor technical infringement with his car, but says he feels no sense of revenge re-visiting Scotland.
He says: "I'm here to win it like I did last year. As far as I'm concerned there's no revenge at all and I'm not playing the political game. The technical infringement was small that, to me, I won it in '09 and I'm back to do exactly the same again this year and make it two in a row."
In addition to Meeke, other British heroes set to tackle Rally of Scotland (15-17 Oct) include Skoda UK's Guy Wilks and Scottish hero Alister McRae in his Proton. Other Scottish crews are also gearing up the event as they seek to use the opportunity to make a name for themselves on an international stage. Many more top 'overseas' IRC regulars are also plotting their entries. This year's event starts at Scone Palace on the Friday night (15 Oct) before two days of flat-out action on competitive timed stages through the forests of Perthshire and Stirlingshire before the Ceremonial Finish at Stirling Castle.