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.

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…

2010

2010 Curtiba Rally - pic by Peugeot

A defence of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title was the focus of 2010, but the 207 S2000 had to be driven to the limit to compete with more recent entries. Kris’s year was blighted by retirements – and even a victory in Brazil wasn’t enough to keep hold of the crown. He ended the season in third, behind Skoda drivers Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky.

There was some compensation, though. Serious talks had already begun between Meeke’s management and Prodrive, which was about to bring Mini back to top-flight rallying. A return to the World Rally Championship beckoned.

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