Not for the first time, Kris Meeke came close to breaking the internet earlier this week. Spotted testing Škoda’s Fabia RS Rally2 in the French Alps, fans put two and two together and were convinced.
This being the Czech firm’s Monte setup test, it’s not an unreasonable assumption.
Sadly, he’s not back. Not yet anyway.
Škoda Motorsport’s Pavel Hortek explained Meeke’s presence in the mountains on Monday. He told DirtFish: “Kris is our development driver, so he will come on the first day of the test to work on the setup for the car.
“We know there are some people who see that this is a setup test for Monte Carlo and they see Kris is coming – they think he is going to be doing the rally. Unfortunately not.”
Instead, Škoda intends to supply Toksport with four all-new Fabias to be driven by the likes of Emil Lindholm, Sami Pajari and Marco Bulacia, with the final lineup to be completed by Toksport World Rally Team soon. Those drivers were all following Meeke into the Alps to prepare for next month’s season-opener.
Hortek added: “As well as the setup work, this is also a development test – which is why Škoda Motorsport is there with Toksport. We are preparing the car for the future and for the tentatively nominated drivers in Monte Carlo.”
But what about the Meeke thing? What are the chances of seeing the five-time World Rally winner out this season?
Hortek said: “We would like to have Kris driving and I’m sure that Kris would like to drive also, but this is not our business.
“Škoda Motorsport is making the development of the car, but Serkan [Duru, Toksport team principal] and Toksport is the team which is running the program and the cars on the rally and we do not interfere with this at all.
“Maybe it’s possible, but definitely not in Monte Carlo or in Sweden, but maybe it’s something we will keep thinking about.”