Factory Citroën WRC driver Kris Meeke is attending his home round of the ERC, the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally, as a guest of ERC promoter Eurosport Events.
Q: The last time we saw you was in Ypres when you were showing off the new Peugeot 208T16. How impressed were you with the performance of the car, particularly on the Acropolis Rally?
KM: “It was pretty special obviously for Craig to get his first victory but also for the guys at Peugeot Sport who have taken a long time to develop the car and really refine it. I was lucky enough to be part of that development last year. I am so happy for the guys that they hit the ground running and it’s a 100 per cent record at the minute. For a special event like the Acropolis – okay one day was on Tarmac this year – but it’s still a world-renowned and tough event. It was very good for everyone at Peugeot and it’s great for the R5 category. It bodes well for the future. Craig will obviously take a lot of confidence from that and hopefully keep the ball rolling on the Circuit of Ireland Rally.”
Q: You’re a guest of Eurosport this weekend. What are you going to be doing and what do you think of Eurosport’s coverage of the ERC?
KM: “You should probably say Eurosport is a guest of mine this weekend being on my home patch! This morning we went out with Jean-Pierre Nicolas [ERC Sporting Manager] over the famous stage Hamiltons Folly. I have never actually competed on it but I’ve watched so many videos of years gone by in the 1980s with all these Audi Quattros breaking on the jumps. This morning I was asking Jean-Pierre if there was any chance to get a car and get a start tomorrow. It’s just exceptional and I would really love to be in a car competing. They are the best Tarmac stages in the world and all credit to Bobby Willis. He’s got the ERC back to the Circuit of Ireland and hopefully now the rally can have a home because that’s what it has been lacking over the last 10 years. It hasn’t had a base and somewhere to work from. But here we have a fantastic venue in the Titanic Quarter. To build something from here would be pretty special and as everyone has seen the roads here are simply fantastic.”
Q: And how much would you have liked to have been competing on the rally this weekend – were you working on a plan to take part?
KM: “It was never really talked about. Maybe in the back of your mind if the Citroën DS3 R5 might have been ready it could be an opportunity but it wasn’t to be. But there was never anything said with any conviction. I just have to keep my priorities in check and focus on what I have to do in the world championship. It’s always nice when a big championship comes to your country but very frustrating when you’re not part of it. But we’ll see for the future. Maybe the world championship could come to Ireland again or I end up in the ERC you never know. But for sure some time I would like to compete on my home rally in a big championship.”