Fresh from their podium finish at Rally Monte-Carlo three weeks ago , Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle expect another big challenge in Sweden, the second round of the World Rally Championship which gets underway tonight (Wednesday 5).
The Tyrone/Kerry pairing will drive the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s second DS3 WRC after their Norwegian/ Swedish teammates of Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson were tasked with leading the squad owing to their greater experience on snow.
Meeke and Nagle, effectively, hold second place in the drivers’ World Championship standings due to the absence of round one runner-up Frenchman Bryan Bouffier from the Swedish entry list.
I’ve never competed on any rally on snow, said Kris. It will be a new experience for me. At least the team know what kind of difficulties I will be up against. I am going to concentrate on learning and forget about the actual result.
I know I’m quick on tarmac and gravel, but I have no real idea about how I’ll manage on snow. During testing, I’ll sit next to Mads to watch how he drives. And then it’ll be down to me to learn about everything: the car, the tyres, and so on. Our rivals have a lot more experience than we do. They will undoubtedly go very fast. I’ll just have to put that out of my mind so I can learn and progress at my own pace. And above all, avoid making any mistakes.
There is plenty of local interest in the Volkswagen World Rally team as Firies mechanic Richard Browne is on spanner duty for The World champions.
Meanwhile the Irish Forestry Rally Championship got under way with the Sean Conlon Memorial Rally in Clonmel on Sunday. Moyvane’s Mike O’Connor finished tenth overall in his Mitsubishi Lancer while Killarney co-driver Shane Buckley was 12th alongside Daniel Cronin in their maiden outing in a World Rally Car
Tralee crew Pat Slattery and PJ O’Dowd won Class Three in their Honda Civic and the Killarney crew of Diarmuid Lynch and John Falvey were third in their class in a Ford Escort Mk2.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s Galway International Rally: Brian Doherty (Glenflesk) will co-drive for New York visitor Martin Donnelly in a Toyota Corolla WRC. Pat Sheahan and Martin O’Riordan are the only all- Kerry crew in the event in their Honda Civic while Kieran O’Donoghue contest the junior section in another Civic.