Ousted Toyota WRC driver Meeke could be thrown career lifeline by Pirelli

Ex-World Rally Championship driver Kris Meeke could be handed a career lifeline as Pirelli's tyre tester ahead of the marque's return to the series in 2021

Ousted Toyota WRC driver Meeke could be thrown career lifeline by Pirelli

The Northern Irishman, a five-time WRC event winner, had been left without a drive for the 2020 season after being dropped by Toyota having spent just one season and securing a single podium with the Japanese squad.

But with Pirelli preparing to become the sole supplier to the WRC from 2021 having won a four-year tender from governing body FIA and taking over from Michelin, Meeke is being considered for the role of testing the new rubber.

Other drivers up for consideration include former Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala, and ex-Hyundai drivers Hayden Paddon and Andreas Mikkelsen, with all four drivers having had experience of using the latest Plus cars introduced in 2017.

Rally activities manager of Pirelli, Terenzio Testoni, said: "We will take one who is not doing the world championship this year, we need a driver who has experience with the Plus [car].

"We still have to choose him, but the line-up includes names like Kris Meeke, Jari-Matti Latvala, Hayden Paddon, Andreas Mikkelsen.

"We're picking him out with the FIA. Anyway it will be one of these, because we need one of these drivers who knows the WRC Plus [car].

"The main factor in these cars is the aerodynamic load and it is important to have a driver who knows how important the effect of aerodynamics is.

"The aspect of the aerodynamics of the Plus is perhaps the one that we know the least, but already in the past we have had the opportunity to rubberise WRC Plus, last year for example.

"We have a minimum of know-how and we are confident."

Testoni confirmed that the exact make of the test car has yet to be agreed, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has put Pirelli on the back foot, delaying the first test from April to July.

"The situation linked to the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to have difficulties and has delayed everything," he said.

"We were ready for the first tests at the end of April but now we are confident we can start in July.

"Pirelli, both for dirt and asphalt tyres, has always done its tests in Sardinia and has done so for various reasons.

"First of all we have all the references and we can understand where we are and immediately the goodness of the product, and then why we go to test directly on the special stages.

"And this is a parameter that can help us to speed up development."

shares
comments
Discussions ongoing over staging a WRC round in Latvia in 2020
Previous article

Discussions ongoing over staging a WRC round in Latvia in 2020

Next article

Ypres Rally organisers in talks to host first Belgium WRC round

Ypres Rally organisers in talks to host first Belgium WRC round
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master Plus

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2

WRC
Jan 23, 2023
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling Plus

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab

WRC
Jan 21, 2023
Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Plus

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown Plus

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Plus

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing Plus

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

OPINION: New Hyundai WRC team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn as he leads the marque's efforts to dethrone Toyota. But could his Formula 1 experience and evident strengths mean he turns out to be an inspired choice?

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed Plus

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater

WRC
Jan 1, 2023
Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022 Plus

Autosport writers' most memorable moments of 2022

The season just gone was a memorable one for many of our staff writers, who are fortunate enough to cover motorsport around the world. Here are our picks of the best (and in some cases, most eventful) from 2022

Formula 1
Dec 31, 2022