Kris Meeke

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Kris's biography

05 November 2013

Kris Meeke has been involved in rallying all of his life – and he’s been a regular at the top of the stage times sheets for more than a decade.

The son of one of Ireland’s most famous rally preparation experts, Kris grew up surrounded by competition cars and was an early regular on events where his father Sydney was running Opels, Fords and Subarus for multiple Tarmac Champion Bertie Fisher.

Born in 1979 in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, Kris is married to Danielle.

Kris has experience of dozens of top-line rallies, and has racked up thousands of miles testing rally cars for leading manufacturers. Here’s a detailed guide to his career so far.

2013

2013 Rally Australia - Citroen DS3 WRC

Kris started this season without a regular drive – but he was busy nevertheless as his renowned testing abilities were harnessed by both Citroen and Peugeot. He racked up miles in the DS3 WRC on gravel, and also played a key role in the development of rallying’s new category, R5, by testing vehicles created for the class. Kris gave the Peugeot 208 T16 its public debut, running as course car on the famous Ypres Rally in Belgium.

In late summer, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi realised that business commitments would prevent him from participating in Rally Finland – and he decided to entrust Kris with his DS3 WRC. Taking full advantage of this opportunity in the Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team, Kris set a number of top-three times as he stunned the WRC regulars to hold a top-five placing.

He suffered late heartbreak by crashing out less than a kilometre from the end of the penultimate stage, Ouninpohja – but with only a short prevent test, and brand new pacenotes for the WRC’s fastest, most challenging stages, he had proven that he has speed to warrant a full-time seat in the top flight. He was rewarded with another opportunity in the factory DS3 on Rally Australia (below).

2013 Rally Australia - pic by Citroen Racing/Andre Lavadinho

After a sensational performance in event qualifying – where Citroen’s star pipped eventual 2013 World Champion Sebastien Ogier to set the fastest time – Kris kept his DS3 in the frame for a podium placing before he slipped off the road on the second afternoon.

The result might have been frustrating, but again Kris had shown promising pace – enough speed, in fact, for Citroen to give him the chance to shine by signing him up for a full WRC campaign in 2014.

2012

2012 Lurgan Park Rally - pic by Roy Dempster

Mini’s decision to withdraw its support from the WRC programme left Kris without a seat for 2012. He filled his time with classified testing duties for some of rallying’s leading manufacturers, and competed on only one rally.

That outing was on the Lurgan Park Rally, Ireland’s leading single-venue event and one that Kris has fond memories of watching when he was a boy. Using a privately-run Mini Countryman WRC, Kris dominated the rally to win by more than 20 seconds, one of the largest winning margins ever seen over Lurgan’s eight short stages.

At the end of the year, Kris switched from four wheels to two to enter the famous Baja 1000 Desert Race. After his most gruelling motorsport experience ever, he completed the 1200-mile all-terrain course on the California Peninsula in Mexico, claiming a respectable 18th place on his first attempt.

2012 Rally GB - pic by Roy Dempster

Elsewhere, Kris returned to Top Gear (above), scaring presenter James May witless (again!) by hurling a Bentley Continental GT through the Welsh forests on a rally stage.

2011

2011 Rally GB - pic by Mini WRC

Kris joined the factory-backed Mini WRC team for its inaugural season in the World Rally Championship, contesting a six-event programme and sharing testing duties with Dani Sordo. He started strongly, running third overall on the car’s very first outing in Sardinia before mechanical problems intervened.

Kris’s high point came in Catalunya (below), where he starred in changeable conditions on the event’s final test to win the ‘Power Stage’ and score his first WRC points for Mini. He then backed that up with a strong run on his home event, Rally GB, where he narrowly missed out on a podium finish and claimed fourth.

2011 Catalunya Rally - pic by Mini WRC

During the year, Kris’s presentation and PR skills were harnessed by Mini, as he made a popular public appearance in front of thousands of fans at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. He also gave the Mini Countryman WRC a dramatic British television debut on popular motoring show Top Gear, as he raced British Olympic skeleton gold medallist Amy Williams down the Lilehammer bobsleigh track. Presenter James May is unlikely to forget his experience from the passenger seat in a hurry.

It was a strong season, therefore – but it ended with a nasty sting. Just before Christmas, it emerged that the Mini WRC teams’ plans for 2012 were changing…

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