Thursday 21 November 2019

Motorsport: Meeke sets sights on career pinnacle to banish memories of Monaco crash

Declan Quigley

IRC Champion Kris Meeke hopes to put last year's woes in Monte Carlo behind him as he aims for a victory that would be the pinnacle of his career.

Meeke and navigator Paul Nagle head an entry list including two other Irish crews for the three-day event which is the first round in the defence of their Intercontinental Rally Challenge title.

Meeke and Nagle, who crashed out heavily in Monte Carlo last season, will lead the field away in their Peugeot 207 on Tuesday ahead of 18 other Super 2000 cars vying for honours.

But Meeke, brimful of confidence after last season's surprise debut-season title, believes that he can emerge ahead of the tarmac specialists in one of motorsports' iconic events.

"There are World Rally Championship events like Rally Finland, which is flat-out driving all the time, which is great from a drivers point of view," Meeke said.

"But Monte Carlo has the prestige, and if you ask anybody in the street what rally they've heard of they'll say Monte Carlo. It has got the history behind it and it would be an incredible thing to join that list of winners, the pinnacle of my career so far."

To do that Meeke will have to fend off a quality entry list including second-seeded WRC star Mikko Hirvonen, who is providing an eagerly-awaited debut for the Ford Fiesta S2000. Also on the prestigious list are the Peugeots of last year's Monte Carlo winner Sebastien Ogier -- now a WRC regular -- and fellow Frenchman and former F1 driver Stephane Sarrazin.

Beyond the S2000 cars, Wexford's Eamonn Boland and Michael Morrissey return to Monte Carlo once again in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 Group N car.

Enniskerry's Daniel Barry and Martin Brady, the Mitsubishi Challenge winners in the UK last season, will be making their Monte Carlo debuts in a similar Lancer Group N machine

Elsewhere on the entry list, Renault F1 star Robert Kubica will start 37th of the 63 runners for his third rally since the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Pole will be partnered by Jakub Gerber in a Renault Clio R3.

Irish Independent

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