by Rob Wilkins.

Kris Meeke may not have had the results he wanted in Spain or Corsica this year, but one thing is for sure, the Brit has again showed he has the pace to shine. Here speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio he reflects on those two events and talks about the rest of the season and his hopes to take in a few rounds in the BRC and possibly again get out in the WRC in the 'senior' category...

Q:
Kris, you've just done two events in the Junior WRC in Spain and Corsica. Let's start with Spain, you managed to take third despite that problem on day one when you collided with the stricken Focus of Jari-Matti Latvala. Was it a case of six points gained when you recovered to take third or four lost, as the win looked very likely prior to that problem with Latvala?

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Kris Meeke:
You can look on it in many different ways. There was one point on the road section when the police had stopped us that for sure I thought we would have to use the SupeRally system and it would have been a big struggled to get any points. In that view it was definitely six points gained.

But in another way it was very frustrating because the police sat there on the road section deciding whether to make a decision or not on if I could continue with a police escort. They held me for 40 minutes and then decided I could go. It was totally out of my hands.

However I have to hold my hands up. I was the one who made the mistake initially and hit Latvala's car and took my wheels off. I wouldn't have been in that situation if the circumstances had been different. So there are many different ways to look at it but at the end of day we came away with six points. We showed some very good pace and I was extremely happy with the team's performance and my own performance.

Q:
Staying with that incident what exactly was the issue. Was there a lack of flags or something warning you about Latvala's car?

KM:
To be honest I have looked over it on the in car re-play and the first time you see it you go 'Jesus' - it all happened so quickly. The more and more you look at it, it is very difficult to tell.

I know exactly what happened now from studying it. I just gave myself an extra couple of... using my line I would be cutting the corner. I came down, saw everybody slowing me up, I slowed up and rather than tuck to the inside of the corner and commitment to my normal line, I gave myself an extra couple of inches berth. However, where I turned in was on the same gravel that he [Latvala] under-steered on into the bridge. As soon as I turned in, I was under-steering already on the gravel and then I saw him and the car was moving across the road. There was very little I could do after that. It is very difficult to analyse a situation like that. It is not something you come across very often and it is the first time I have been in a situation like that in my career. So it is unfortunate the way it turned out but that's motorsport - it is unpredictable some times.

Q:
Following that you went to France and you were dominating the event, until engine problems near the end of day two. How frustrating was it, especially as you couldn't re-start on Sunday under the SupeRally format?

KM:
Yeah for me it is extremely frustrating. But again, as I say, motorsport is unpredictable. These cars are tuned to there limits' - and it is very rare at Citroen that we have had any problems with reliability over the past season and a half. So for the engine to let go was surprising. Definitely it is a bit of a blow when you are leading the rally, but up to that we were setting a good pace. We had pulled a bit of lead out on Friday, which we had planned to do, when the stages were quite nice. On the difficult stages on Saturday we were just driving to the spilt times and just trying to hold our lead and everything was working perfectly. But you can never predict what is going to happen.

It just seems at the moment I always have the performance to win these rallies and everything, but the points just don't seem to come my way. It has been that case on so many occasions this past year. I am in a position to win these rallies and it just hasn't happened. But there is nothing much you can change, every circumstance has been different, whether it has been reliability problems or a freak incident, like the Latvala one. Besides I just have to keep my head down and keep pushing.

On the other side of the coin coming away from those rallies I have done 22 stages - 21 if you discount the Latvala one - and I have been fastest on 18 of them. So I can do no more in the car - the performance is there and everyone can see it. The team is working fantastically and the car has definitely shown its true pace and for me performance wise I can do no more. We just have to keep doing what we are doing and pushing hard. I have full faith in the team and that they will put things right. For sure, for the rest of the season I am confident we can go to the rallies and definitely seek the maximum ten points.

Q:
What is being done to address that problem and to ensure it doesn't happen again?

KM:
As I say Citroen have been very reliable over this past season and a half and it was very surprising it happened - no more so than for the engineers. For sure a full investigation is going on but an investigation happens whenever you have a problem like this. I have every confidence they will get to the bottom of it. We just have to keep our heads down and keep working hard. They are working every bit as hard as me. It will turn around and go right for us. It is just when you look at the championship table it is a bit frustrating at the minute knowing we had the performance to come away with 20 points [from Spain and Corsica]. But that is the situation we are in and we just have to keep working hard.

Q:
Now the next JWRC events are in Argentina and Sardinia, you are not doing those though, as drivers can only score points on six of the nine JWRC events. Argentina was a late addition to the Junior calendar and only four drivers will contest it. Does that make a bit of a mockery of it in that they are all guaranteed points if they finish and at least three of them will be on the podium?

KM:
Yeah I said this before the championship started and I don't want it to come out now and make a big massive story of saying it is a ridiculous situation. I said it before the championship started that it makes mockery of it. Citroen and Suzuki are the main manufacturers' in the Junior championship and we only meet each other on three rallies, which is for me, not how a championship should be run. I definitely think it is a big mistake. I struggle to understand how the championship works points scoring wise - and when you have local organisers entering local drivers and they can take points from championship regulars it all gets so complicated that even the people involved in it are struggling to understand it - how are you suppose to sell that to the public? It just creates a very confused situation and I think if you asked any of competitors we want to compete against each other all the time. I have been speaking to P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks, they are not doing anything wrong, Suzuki is not doing anything wrong [by going to Argentina]. They are just playing the rules but we are all under agreement that the rules are not the way the competitors want it. I am sure the fans are struggling to understand it too and it is difficult to see why they [the FIA] have done it. It is just a strange situation but at the end of day that is the way it is. We have to drive through this year and except the situation but for the future I think they have to put it right.

Q:
You're next event is in Germany, but that's not until August. What are you going to be doing prior to that? Any testing planned?

KM:
Yeah we have a bit of testing planned between now and then because Germany and Finland are together, so we have to test for both of those beforehand. I am also heading off on Sunday and we have testing for Sardinia. I am doing a bit for work for [Brice] Tirabassi and [Julien] Pressac [my Citroen C2 team-mates] - testing the car and finding a set-up for those guys who are doing Sardinia. Also between that we have a Germany and Finland test.

I am also pushing at the moment to try and get out on more events to fill the gap. The British Rally championship looks very appealing but it all comes down to budget. I am very keen to get out on it, but as I say, I have no idea at the minute if I will be there all not. It would be nice to fill the gaps with some BRC rallies, but nothing is confirmed either way at the moment. So we just have to sit tight and wait and see.

Q:
What are you ambitions for Germany and the rest of the season?

KM:
Well I think from our performance in Spain and Corsica we have to go to Germany knowing that we can do the stages times, knowing that we can run at the front of the field and knowing that we can consolidate a lead. But everything has to be there in place, there are so many factors involved in rallying and you just have to have a bit of luck and to come away with the ten points. I have to go there with the goal of getting ten points but to get those points with have to work hard and make sure everything is in place. I hope we have clean run but as I say we have shown the performance on asphalt and we hopefully we carry that through to Germany.

Then the championship really starts for me in Finland, Turkey and on Rally GB, because that is when we go up against our main rivals and I think that is where the exciting bit of the championship will be. As I said before why the FIA have split us up and we only have proper exiting races between the top competitors in the last three events of the year is a little bit strange. That is way it is though and we are focusing very hard on all the events for rest of the season.

Q:
I believe you are hoping to do some events in a WRC car this year. What can you tell us about that?

KM:
We are always hoping to do events in a WRC car. But it is purely down to budget and finance. Unless you are Sebastien Loeb or Marcus Gronholm or Petter Solberg, unless you are any of the three of them, you have to find the budget to go rallying in a WRC car. At the minute it is a big push, but for sure I hope to be out there but by no means have we secured the budget. Let's just wait and see - it is a very difficult climate at the moment to try and secure funding. Of course we are looking at this year and also looking at next year and where we want to be and what we want to do and so on. It is a case of looking at all the options and seeing what's available and what we can do and what budget we can raise. Everything is up in the air a bit at the moment.

Q:
Widening the discussion a bit, there have been quite a few changes this season with less factory teams. Privateer entries seem to be doing well is that encouraging for you as you look to make the step-up from the JWRC?

KM:
Yeah it is... well encouraging in a way. The championship for me needs manufacturers' there. You need the manufacturer teams to make it a fully sustainable championship. Privateers come and go - and it is very difficult for people to raise the budgets. But you know you have people in there doing very, very well in the championship who previously probably wouldn't have got an opportunity up if they had been against the manufacturer teams - it is very difficult to compete against them. This year people are able to go in and in the far way events they have been able to get some good results due to the numbers competing. It makes for an exciting championship because there are different people up there at the top. But you still have the three main guys - Solberg, Gronholm and Loeb, who are battling for the championship. But as I say, it makes for an interesting year, but for me, to have a sustainable championship you need the manufacturers' there. As I said privateers tend to come and go and just to sustain a good level I hope a few more manufacturers' return in the future.

Q:
Your team-mate from last year, Daniel Sordo has been doing well since stepping up to the senior level. Does that give you encouragement in light of the fact you were pretty evenly matched in 2005?

KM:
Yeah for sure, it is fantastic to see Dani doing well. He did the business last year and he deserves the opportunity. He has been able to raise the finance in Spain and off the back of that with the rules this year of using a 2005 spec car and he has definitely made the most of everything he has got. For me it is not surprising see him up there doing battle. We know the pace that we were doing last year and for me it is not surprising to see him get the results he is doing. It is good. It is nice to see him doing well and he fully deserves the opportunity. So we just have to keep our heads down and keep working at it and hopefully I will get an opportunity down the line too.

Q:
Thanks Kris. Good luck in Germany and with sorting a programme in the BRC and/or with a World Rally car in the WRC.

KM:
Appreciate that thank you.