11 January 2009
Q&A: Kris Meeke - Peugeot: EXCLUSIVE.
Kris Meeke will hope for an impressive season in 2009 after a inking a deal with Peugeot to contest the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Meeke will debut in the 207 S2000 in the Monte Carlo Rally and the aim for the season is clear – to fight for the championship crown...
Crash.net spoke to him at the Autosport International to look to the year ahead.
We're here with Kris Meeke who was given a nice Christmas present with a deal to drive with Peugeot in the IRC this season. Kris how did the deal come about?
It's been a lot of hard work to be honest right from May of 2008. We basically made a decision to try and be in a Super 2000 car because I thought it would end up being the future of World Rally. As it turns out now the FIA has made the decision that the World Rally Championship will be Super 2000, or a variant of, from 2010. It's proved to be the right decision, but little did I think then that we'd end up for this year with a factory drive for Peugeot. It's a very exciting place to be; we have the full support of Peugeot UK and I'm really looking forward to it.
So how did a factory deal come about then if it wasn't what you were expecting? Did you just get lucky?
Well there's a certain amount of luck in coming across the right person at the right time. But unless you're doing the right things and putting the effort in then you won't trip across that type of luck. So you make your own luck up to a certain degree, but I have to say that Peugeot UK have been fantastic; they have welcomed the deal with open arms and are fully behind it. Now we're joining the factory squad and Kronos so it's an awesome place to be.
Looking at the driver line-up in the IRC this season, especially the season-opener at Monte Carlo, there's going to be some pretty big names taking part in the series. Do you think it's established itself pretty quickly?
Yeah for sure. The Monte Carlo entry says it all; you have four factory Peugeots, four factory Fiats, two factory Skodas and semi-factory output from Volkswagen. It's very, very exciting and just to be part of it I have to be grateful. The championship for me is a breath of fresh air. It's a lot more open; they are allowing events to get back to what they used to be. Monte Carlo is back to a traditional style event, big road sections and covering all the terrain they used to cover. And it's going to exciting new places like Brazil, but still keeping the tradition of events like San Remo. It's a fascinating place to be and there's such a buzz about it and I think that's down to Eurosport the promoters. They are able to give it as much air time as they desire on the spots channel and for Monte Carlo alone they will have an unprecedented six hours of live television. So the promotion is there and everything is right so now I have to knuckle down, work hard make the most of the opportunity.
As a driver how does the S2000 car compare to the other cars you've driven such as Junior WRC cars and full WRC cars?
I haven't driven it yet so I can't tell you! I'm due to do a two day next week but I did do a two day test in another S2000 car earlier this year and to be honest I was so surprised. It's an identical approach to driving a Super 1600 engine. When you have a normally aspirated engine you have to keep it buzzing. You have to concentrate so much on being in the right gear at the right time and keeping momentum up and it's exactly the same principals as driving a Super 1600. Obviously there is the extra grip and traction from a four-wheel drive system, but everything else is pretty much the same; the power to weight is very similar to a Super 1600. I'm very excited by the prospect and hopefully my upbringing in Super 1600 will help me this year.
You've said the aim is the WRC so, come 2010, if Peugeot elect to enter a team in the WRC you'd be hoping to put yourself in the shop window for one of those drives?
That's the plan but you just never know in this game what is around the corner. I have an opportunity now but I can't sit back and think that's it. I've got to work hard and make the most of it and you are only as good as your results. This season I'm aiming to get the best championship position possible. You have to have belief in your ability and I do believe that, if things go my way, it's possible to win the championship. But at the same token you have to put yourself in a position where you can pick up good points if things don't go your way, you have to be cautious and sensible. And, as you say, it would be nice to put myself in a position to continue with Peugeot the following year.
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