Spare tire stops Meeke on day one of Dakar debut

Fire damage to SSV's electrics forces Meeke out of SS1 after leading


Kris Meeke’s Dakar Rally debut has already come to halt after a spare tire in his PH Sport-run side-by-side vehicle caught fire on the very first stage of the rally raid in Saudi Arabia.

The Northern Irishman had reunited with the French team that ran him in the World Rally Championship in 2016 to make his first Dakar appearance in the Lightweight Prototype class driving a T3.1 Zephyr SSV alongside Dutch co-driver Wouter Rosegaar.

Things had started strongly with victory on the short pre-event prologue and the fastest time through the first three waypoints of the opening stage during which he ran first on the road.

However, his fortunes turned after the 109-mile mark in the 172-mile stage from Jeddah to Bisha, with his SSV coming to a halt. It didn’t progress along the stage any further as the rest of the class entries filtered through, and Meeke posted on Instagram from his desert position once it was clear his hopes of making the finish of SS1 were over.

“Spare tire caught fire, burnt electrics,” said Meeke. “Over and out for today. Waiting on tow rope to the Bivouac.

“Really enjoyed it up to that. We’ll get a fix tonight. Back at it tomorrow.”

The accompanying image showed the rear of his SSV looking slightly burned out on its exterior.

Once he’s towed back to the Dakar’s equivalent of a rally service park, Meeke will be able to repair his car and should be able to continue in the rally. The second stage, which takes the crews from Bosha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir, is a 284-mile test that heads into the dunes of the desert.

Meeke’s team-mate Jean Remy Bergounhe was 25th in the Lightweight Prototype class on SS1, which was won by Red Bull junior Cristina Gutierrez.

Photos:Florent Gooden/DPPI

Words:Elliot Wood