Thursday 25 May 2017

Motorsport: Meeke heading into uncharted territory in Rally Argentina

Declan Quigley

Having got their International Rally Challenge title defence back on track in Brazil 10 days ago, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle head into uncharted territory in Rally Argentina this weekend.

Meeke recovered from his first-round crash in Monte Carlo with a victory in Rally Internacional de Curitiba that vaulted him back into contention for 2010 honours in third place in the points standings.

His Kronos Citroen team boss, Marc van Dalen, described Meeke's win -- a record fifth in the series -- as one of the best of his career.

However, his hopes of adding to that tally this weekend are made tougher by his relative unfamiliarity with a demanding event that, while new to the IRC, has been part of the WRC for many years and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

With his experience of the Argentine roads limited to a recce he carried out in 2005 when he was contesting the Junior World Rally Championship, the Dungannon driver admits he will be starting from scratch alongside co-driver Nagle when the action gets under way tomorrow.

"I've a half idea of what to expect from the recce we did five years ago but it will be a clean-sheet-of-paper approach when we get there," he said.

"We'll have more opposition than we did in Brazil with Nasser Al-Attiyah and Federico Villagra, who will both be strong because they are quick but also know the rally very well.

"The important thing is to get points. With the victory under our belts in Brazil, we don't have to win in Argentina so there is less pressure on us this time," he added.

Skoda drivers Juha Hanninen, Guy Wilks and Al-Attiyah, along with Ford Fiesta S2000's local hero Villagra, will provide serious opposition for Meeke as he aims to retain the title he won in impressive style last season.

Meanwhile at home, Cork MC have amassed 160 entries for this weekend's Quality Hotels West Cork Rally where former winners Michael Barrable, Denis Cronin, Liam McCarthy and Bob Fowden will do battle.

However, the star turn is likely to come from Tarmac sensation Tim McNulty, who is using the two-day event to shake down his Subaru WRC machine ahead of the Circuit of Ireland at Easter. Also WRC-equipped are JJ Fleming and Hugh Hunter.

Irish Independent

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