Britain's Kris Meeke has insisted that the recent Rallye Monte Carlo, the opening round in the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, wasn't all bad, despite the fact he crashed out heavily on the final day.
Meeke, who was making his IRC debut along with Peugeot UK, set the fastest time on SS3 and was running second overall until he lost around a minute on day two with a puncture sustained after hitting a hole in SS6.
Despite that however, he was still well placed to finish on the podium and he started the last leg fourth overall, just 4.4 seconds off Juho Hanninen in third place.
Disaster struck though early on Friday morning, when he lost control of his Peugeot 207 S2000 after it slid on a patch of slush just 1 kilometre in. The car left the road and rolled five times, demolishing part of a bridge, but luckily both Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle emerged uninjured.
Speaking after his exit, Meeke conceded it wasn't the start he had wanted, but he was still pleased with his pace and he took comfort from the fact of number of the other front runners also had difficulties.
“I confirmed with my navigator Paul before the stages, that we just needed to get through this stage, and head back to Monte Carlo, and we would have been well in contention for a podium, possibly a win. But the conditions were treacherous, and it just so happened we were one of the first to tackle the stage,” he recounted.
"After a series of sixth gear right and left corners, I hit slush and from then on I was a passenger. We hit a bridge, and rolled a few times. It's a testament to the strength of the Peugeot 207 that we managed to get out unscathed.
"Until then, I was very happy with our performance. It was our first event in the car, and we showed really good pace, without taking any risks. Monte Carlo is such a dangerous place, but it also provides an awesome thrill. It remains a love-hate relationship for many drivers, and must be the ultimate challenge, but this time it's bitten back.
“OK, it's not a good start, but our competitors also have had problems, so for the championship is not all bad."
Meeke's focus will now shift to the next round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, the Rally Internacional de Curitiba, in Brazil, which runs from March 5-7.