Meeke: This rally was my career in one weekend

With echoes of Solberg in Corsica and Neuville in Germany, Meeke went from binning it to winning it in Portugal


Kris Meeke was the talk of Friday after he rolled his Hyundai Portugal i20 N Rally2 at shakedown for Rali terras d’Aboboreira. Just hours later, with the car looking a touch second-hand, he won the first stage. A day later, he won the rally. Meeke’s no stranger to dramatic rallies, but this one was right up there with some of the best.

Here are his thoughts on two days in Amarante.

What a weekend that was… my career in one rally!

There was a bit of a feeling of Petter [Solberg] from Corsica, 2003 or Thierry [Neuville] a few years later in Germany. I braked too late. It was a blind entry to the corner, a fast right over a crest and then into the left where the road closes up on the rockface. I knew about it. I’d done one run. With the WRC2 boys there, I wanted to get a good place on the road, I wanted to make the best chance possible. But hands up, it was my mistake, simple.


History repeating itself: Petter Solberg crashed during the shakedown of the 2003 Tour de Corse, but went onto win the rally by 36.6 seconds

I’ve always said this: you get the price you pay and that’s it. You don’t get to choose what happens after you make a mistake.

The car landed on the roof, but there was no cage damage. We convinced the organizers to pause shakedown for five minutes, the fans there were brilliant – they cut down a couple of trees, we moved a few big boulders, created a path and then drove the car back to service – the damage was cosmetic.

After everybody had selected their place on the road, I was left second. That wasn’t too bad in the end. Everybody had been waiting, staring at their apps on their phones and wondering when the rain would arrive. Most of the drivers went mid-pack to try to be safe one way or another for the weather. It started to rain an hour before the first car, so it probably worked in my favour. But it was foggy, wet, muddy and tricky – it was really like that for everybody.

What was I thinking going into the start? You know me, put a bone down in front of me and I’ll chase it. Human psychology is a wild thing.

The [Hyundai Portugal] team are just mega. The way they support everybody is incredible. Back in the day, you’d have been pulled into the truck by the top of the ear and scolded for what happened [at shakedown], but Ze Pedro [Fontes, Hyundai Portugal team principal] came over and said: “The car’s f****d, so you might as well just go for it!”

So, we did. I’m not perfect, they know I’m not perfect and I know as well. But I’m really fortunate that they appreciate me and I really appreciate them. We’re there to have fun and we certainly did that.

We’d built a half-minute lead through Saturday morning, only to get a puncture and see it all disappear. With three stages to go, there was just three seconds between me and Pierre-Louis Loubet, it was the start of a new rally.


Spraying champagne a day after his car had rolled down a bank was quite the turnaround

But we did it. I’m happy for that. Happy for the team, me and Stu [Loudon]. This was my first event with Stuart… it was fairly action-packed. He was absolutely mega. I’ve known him for a long time, but honestly, he was absolutely on it through the whole event – he’s still got an absolute determination and desire to make it the very top of the sport and he can do it. He was immaculate in the way he worked.

One guy I had competed alongside before was Dani [Sordo]. Seeing him out there was mega. I see a bit of him at home, but seeing him wearing the same color overalls as me again, it was like winding the clock back 20 years. We stopped on the road sections, talking the same s**t we always did back in the day. It was just good craic. The whole event was just good craic – one the team and I won’t forget in a while.