Q & A: Meeke on Mini debut

Kris Meeke finally gets his big World Rally Championship break this year with the new Mini team, which unveiled its definitive car in Oxford today

Q & A: Meeke on Mini debut

AUTOSPORT spoke to Meeke after the event and got his thoughts on what he hopes will be a breakthrough season.

Q. How does it feel to be here?

Kris Meeke: Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. It's something I have been looking forward to for a very long time. I joined the team last year and have grown with them ever since. I feel privileged to have been part of this, it's very exciting to be part of a factory team in the WRC for the first time.

Q. You have been waiting a while...

KM: I have, but I feel totally ready for this now. I've gained plenty of experience along the way, but right now I feel completely ready to do the job with Prodrive. Like I said, it's hugely exciting to be part of this whole thing. Look at the people here today, it's incredible and there's such a buzz about the whole thing. Mini's back!

Q. Where are you up to with testing?

KM: We had a test two weeks in Spain. We were there for four days and we're back to northern Spain, near Girona next week and a final test in Wales just before we go to Sardinia for the first event. We're busy with testing right up until the last moment.

Q. What are you doing in the tests?

KM: Girona is the test where we should have the definitive engine. The one we're testing now has been called the 98 per cent engine, so two per cent's going not going to be massive, but it's all going to help.

Q. And what do you think of the car so far?

KM: That's the multi-million dollar question, isn't it. It's impossible to know until we get to the stages. I think we can draw some confidence from [Armindo] Araujo's pace in Portugal. The trouble with that is that you're comparing Sebastien Loeb with Araujo, who hasn't really driven at World Rally Car level.

On the last test we did in Spain, Araujo came for the last half hour of Dani's test and sat in the car. They had the rear aero on and he [Araujo] was consistently two seconds per kilometre slower than Dani in the same car. Maybe we're clutching at straws and reading too much into things, but on normal stages in Portugal Araujo was two seconds or 2.1 seconds per kilometre slower [in the Mini S2000] than the frontrunners. On one stage he was down to 1.2 seconds, but that was really slow and technical...

The only thing I will say is that I don't think we're a second per kilometre away and we're not a second per kilometre in front. That's a fair assessment.

Q. What can you do on the first event in Sardinia?

KM: I have to be realistic. Everybody is asking me this question: are you going to be on the pace in Sardinia? Has anybody stepped into a factory World Rally Car and been on the pace straight away? Look at Sebastien Ogier, he was on the verge of being dropped by Citroen after six events.

Q. You must have a target in the back of your mind, though...

KM: If the two cars could finish without problems in the top six, it would be mega. How can I predict more than that? If I had a pound for every time somebody has asked me that, I'd be a millionaire by now - and I'd say I'd be a multi-millionaire by the time we get to the start of Sardinia. We simply don't know.

Q. What's the big thing to learn for you?

KM: I have to learn the rhythm and tempo of driving in the world championship. It's been a while since I was up there. The pace the top five are on is fast and it's going to take me time to adjust. I might surprise myself: I did two rallies in Sardinia last year and I know the area quite well, so I might surprise myself. But I have to treat it with caution. This is a three-year deal for me and I don't have to go and prove everything on the first stage.

shares
comments
Sordo keen to re-establish himself
Previous article

Sordo keen to re-establish himself

Next article

Delays unlikely to halt Jordan Rally

Delays unlikely to halt Jordan Rally
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021