Mini, Citroën, Toyota or even Peugeot? No matter which manufacturer you closest associate Kris Meeke with, it probably isn’t Škoda.
But earlier this week, the five-time World Rally Championship event winner made his first public appearance in the team’s famous green-and-white colors as the new Fabia RS Rally2 was shown off to the world.
Meeke’s been heavily involved in the testing of the new machine and has therefore forged a good relationship with Škoda Motorsport’s army of mechanics and engineers, but it’s not for the first time.
“I think I did the first test in Škoda [Fabia Rally2 evo in] 2020, just after the first corona outbreak and all that, we were in Sanremo,” Meeke told DirtFish, explaining how he got involved in the new Rally2 project.
“But then we started discussing after that, we knew the new car was coming and yeah, I’ve had many discussions with Škoda over the years.”
In fact, had a couple of negotiations gone a little differently, Meeke and Škoda could be a partnership we all still talk about today.
“I was close to driving with them in IRC,” Meeke continued. He would eventually sign for Peugeot for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, winning the ’09 title.
“I was actually here back in the factory in 2009 I remember to discuss with them. I’ve known Michal Hrabánek a long time and Pavel [Hortek, team manager].”
Can you imagine if Meeke had driven a Fabia instead of a 207 S2000? Would that have changed his career path?
Either way, it wasn’t even the first instance Meeke had throughout his rise to the WRC where he was involved with Škoda but didn’t actually compete. Things were more advanced four years earlier as he actually drove a Fabia WRC.
Meeke explained: “I actually did my first-ever World Rally Car test with Škoda in 2005 in Monte Carlo pre-test, so that was many, many years ago. So I’ve known the guys a very long time.”
One of those to ponder and think ‘what if’… isn’t it?
But now that Meeke has begun to work a lot closer with Škoda, he has a huge appreciation for the size of the outfit.
“You only realize when you get involved with Škoda Motorsport how big an operation they run, it’s huge,” he said.
“To take on a new car when the current Fabia’s been so successful, won every trophy around the world, been so reliable and dominant so to try and improve that obviously with the regulations staying more or less the same has been a challenge, and taking on a new platform of car for me it was a really enjoyable experience.
“The Czech people are so passionate about their brand, they’re so enthusiastic, the mechanics, the hours they put in in test days, and we’ve done so many thousands of kilometers but that passion really wins through and I’m really happy to work with them.
“I still get my passion from driving a car and I love just working away in the background and giving my feedback to the engineers, so it’s been a perfect environment for me.
“I love it.”
All that remains now is for Meeke to finally start a rally in works Škoda colors. That would really complete the story.