by Rob Wilkins
Britain's Kris Meeke was on the verge of putting together a deal to compete in a World Rally Car recently and while things looked promising post-Rally GB, unfortunately those plans have came to nought. Here he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio
and explains just what has gone on - and why it all comes down to money, lorry loads full of the stuff...
Kris, tell us about your plans for 2007?
At the moment there is nothing on the table. We had some exciting things happen over the last two weeks and it was a bit of a roller-caster ride to see if we could put something together. We were very close to generating a programme in a WRC car but due to various circumstances it didn't happen for whatever reason and unfortunately it has left me without a drive. There was other options off the back that too, maybe the Production Car WRC or something. But to be honest I set myself a target, that I wanted to be in a WRC car and unfortunately as in all of these things it is financial reasons more than most, that I am not in a World Rally Car.
Can you give us any details on the deal?
I think everyone knows, Red Bull were quite keen, after Skoda announced they were moving to the Super 2000, to support a World Rally programme. I think Red Bull toyed with Kronos as an option to place [Andreas] Aigner - and obviously I have been a Red Bull athlete now for two years and we were looking at all the options and something could have happened there. But that has come and gone and it hasn't happened. Other than that, there is not much left out there now, unless you come in with a large lorry load of cash.
You mentioned the PCWRC, is that a possibility still? Or have entries closed for that?
They closed on Friday and we haven't got an entry in. Any budget I could raise though would be to do a World Rally Car programme.
I am just starting, if I am completely honest, to lose a bit of motivation in the whole sport, because if you come flashing a cheque book you are brilliant and exciting and they want you to drive. If you come asking what is available without that, you are not so exciting and they don't want you to drive. It is a game where money talks and this time of year, money decides what kind of meetings you have and who you talk to and that decides what car you drive and where you drive it. Then it is up to the driver after that to produce the goods with his talent.
There are drivers out there who have the talent and have the ability and with backers those guys will go on to great things in the FIA World Rally Championship. So, I have no gripes about anything, it is the reality of the sport now-a-days. I am just not fortunate to come from a rich family or a wealthy background or to have wealthy backers behind me.
What about doing the Junior Rally Championship again?
Well I am not too old for it. I have another year - maybe two, left in the Junior Rally Championship if I wanted it. To be honest though, I have tried for a few years now and ultimately, pace wise, there is nothing left for me to prove, other than to win the championship.
It is a six-round championship and with the reliability problems I have had this year - and I have made some mistakes too, I have to hold up my hands as well, but there were three events this year where we retired and scored zero points due to mechanical problems. If you add all that up and look at the statistics, we had the most number of fastest stage times, and everyone can see what I am doing, but it was just getting so frustrating, that we couldn't get it all together and win the championship.
If it is a championship that people want, while I have to stand up and admit I haven't won the Junior championship, but I think we have been capable of doing that now for three years. But it hasn't happened. People know what I can do, they know the speed I have got, but unfortunately when you look at the championship and draw the line, we finished seventh and that is the bottom line. But if people look at the details, they know what we can do and that is the reason we were in discussions with all these teams, like Red Bull, Kronos about driving a WRC car, because they know what I can do. Unfortunately though certain parties couldn't come to an agreement and nothing materialised.