Kris Meeke (r) and Elfyn Evans - Credit: www.worldrallypics.com
The World Rally Championship is almost over and AOL Cars has been catching up with the British stars of the series. First up is Citroen driver Kris Meeke who's well known in the rallying world, but is undertaking his first full season in the WRC this year. We talked Mini, Colin McRae and taking over from the most successful driver in WRC history...
How have you found your first (almost) full season of WRC?
It's been very good up to now. Tough at times, but you're always going to get that in your first season at the top level. It's always going to take a little bit of time to find your feet. The first half of the season was completely new to me but in the second half I was a bit more familiar with the rallies. We're starting now to get stronger and stronger in the car and the results are coming. We just got our fourth podium of the year. It's been a good season to date.
How different is it at Citroen compared to your time at Mini?
With Mini back in 2011, we'd just started a development programme with a brand new car, everything was new to us. But here I'm at one of the most successful teams, probably ever. to enter the world championship, with 10 manufacturer titles and nine driver world titles with Sebastien Loeb. So to come in off the back of that, with people with so much experience, it's a fantastic place to be and a great place to learn.
Tempering my enthusiasm to go fast and getting experience, because when you only get a one-year deal, at this level, you're eager to prove that you're worthy of it. But at the same time, it's impossible to prove anything on events that you haven't done before. It's very difficult to tread that line.
What's your aim as you head into the last two rounds?
Now, we're sixth in the championship and I believe there's a possibility we can get fourth. So that would be a nice target to aim for over the last two rallies. Although, we just have to aim to score as much as we can on each rally and hopefully then that fourth place will be possible. That would be a very nice way to finish the season.
You were spotted by Colin McRae. That must have been a very special time for you?
I grew up in the sport. My father and my whole family was involved in rallying. And I grew up in the '90s and into the early 2000s as a huge fan of Colin McRae and I never dreamed that I would ever take up the sport myself, never mind getting his support and being mentored by him! It was a very surreal time but a very enjoyable time and one that without which I definitely wouldn't be here now. It was quite a unique way to come through the ranks of the sport, but a fascinating one.
As a fan of rallying, did it live up to your expectations?
It's fantastic but you become focused on performance and results. If you sit back and enjoy it, you're not going to be there for that long. So you have to remain focused on what you're focused on – it's so intense. It's very rarely that you get to sit back and enjoy how good it really is! It's easy to forget you're probably in the majority of people's dream jobs. But it's fantastic, I love the experience.
Are you looking forward to the final round in Wales?
For me it's one of the traditional events of the world championship, like a Monte Carlo or the Argentina Rally. You know, Rally GB has always been part of the championship in some shape or form. November, with loads of mud and curves, for me it's feels like the right place to be in a rally car at this time of year.
Do you see it as your home race?
It's as close as it gets to home! A few years back we had a WRC Rally Ireland round, now it's Rally GB. It was my first ever world championship event back in 2002, so it feels as close to home as I can get and we should have a lot of support on that rally!
Next week we catch up with Ford WRC driver Elfyn Evans about his first ever season in the championship and competing on his home turf of Wales.
Author: Rebecca Chaplin