by Rob Wilkins.
Colin McRae's protege, Kris Meeke is one of two Brit's vying for the Junior World Rally Championship [JWRC] this year, along with fellow countryman, Guy Wilks. Currently Meeke leads the championship by one point, following his win at the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally and a third place finish last weekend in Sardinia – an event which could so easily have been win number two.
Here, talking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
, he reflects on that event - 'the one that got away' - and looks further ahead...
Kris. You finished third in Sardinia last weekend. Were you pleased with that?
Definitely happy to come away leading the [Junior] championship. It is also good to take six points away from a very rough rally. But I think it was still a case of what could have been.
I'm still quite frustrated at the small mistake I made on the Saturday afternoon, when we got caught in the dust of the car in front and missed a braking point. Because of the nature of the event over there - the roads are so narrow - we just caught some rocks at the side of the road and it put us out of the rally. Luckily, under the new regulations, it was the last stage on Saturday and we were only penalised five minutes for missing that stage and managed to get back in to get third place. So, all in all, it was a good weekend but, for one mistake, it could have been another victory for us.
You mentioned the SupeRally system there. A few of the drivers discussed this in the post-event press conference and said that they don't think it is really fair. What's your position on this?
If I am really honest, I think it is not fair. For me, rallying has always been every bit as much about attrition as speed. You have to be able to finish rallies and drive at a level where you are not going crash. If you have mechanical problems, that is the car manufacturer's fault.
I think you should be penalised the way you have always been, and you have to up your game and be able to finish a three-day rally. I can see that, for the paying spectators and everything, it is definitely good for TV, but they need to re-think the points system and how it operates. I probably was a benefactor in Sardinia, but you will always hear drivers who do well complain about those that benefit from it. So it has it plusses and minuses. But, for me, I'd like to see it go back to the old system.
You had the new Citroen
C2 S1600 gravel specification car in Sardinia as well. How was that?
We have been concentrating very hard over the past two or three months on the gravel set-up of the car. Citroen
are putting in a lot of effort this year, and it is just fantastic for me to be involved in such a big team. We have been doing a lot of testing, and I think we proved in Sardinia that the hard work has paid off and we have been working in right direction. For me, there is still more to come from the car and it gives me very good confidence heading to the next gravel rounds in Greece and Finland. I think we have the basis to start a very good championship campaign from here.
Thanks to your third place in Sardinia and your victory in Monte Carlo, you are leading the championship. Must be pretty good?