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.