Kris Meeke expects tough examination ahead of Rali Vinho da Madeira

Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke says he returns to the picturesque island of Madeira very much on the back foot but still confident of scoring well on round six of the Portuguese Rally Championship title.
Kris Meeke expects tough examination ahead of Rali Vinho da Madeira

13 years after his last visit Meeke is back in action at Rali Vinho da Madeira, which is now in its sixty fourth year and organised by Club Sports da Madeira.

Despite the long hiatus, the Dungannon native found his groove quickly and recorded the third quickest time during Thursday morning’s qualifying stage with Brian Hoy - his new co-driver for the Tarmac event - aboard his Hyundai Team Portugal-backed i20 N Rally2 supermini.

He traversed ‘Agua de Pena’ in one minute 51.081 seconds, with Miguel Nunes second quickest and Giandomenico Basso coming out top by almost 0.7 seconds. That means the Italian will have first choice of road position in his Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo.

However, Meeke has momentum on his side having convincingly won the last round of the Championship at the beginning of last month, taking maximum points by 36.9 seconds – his second perfect score from three starts.

“It will be a pleasure to return to the Madeira Stages Rally but it won’t be easy after so many years away,” admitted the former Mini, Citroen and Toyota World Rally Championship frontrunner.

“It is a new challenge for me as it will also be the first time with Brian Hoy by my side – but we are ready to do our best with the Hyundai i20 N Rally2.

“I already know that there are local drivers who are very fast and know the roads well. However, we are committed to going fast and putting on a good show for the people of Madeira,” added the 44-year-old.

After a short super special stage, the Madeira Wine Rally resumes on Friday with crews taking on a total of six special stages, three either side of a lunchtime service halt. On Saturday, there a further eight stages to navigate, including the end-of-rally Power Stage which has a 5.19pm start time.

Meeke’s last visit to Madeira came in 2010 as part of his Intercontinental Rally Challenge title defence. However, on that occasion he failed to make it to the finish as his Peugeot Sport UK-backed 207 Super 2000 had to be retired after developing an oil leak.


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