Donnerstag, 27. Oktober 2016

  • Pressemitteilung BoxID 133417

Meeke and Wilks go head-to-head in Scotland

(lifePR) (München, ) Kris Meeke and Guy Wilks, driving the two cars draped in their British flag, are turning the RACMSA Rally of Scotland into a private battle for victory. Meeke, already crowned as the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge series winner, has led from the start in his Peugeot UK-entered 207 S2000 but has been pushed all the way by Wilks in his Skoda UK-entered Fabia S2000.

A thrilling contest between two of the sport's rising stars has been played out in the spectacular Scottish countryside. Ranging through the green Scottish hills from Perthshire to the Trossachs, today's action began under brilliant blue skies and ended under thunderclouds at dusk.

From their earliest days in the sport Meeke and Wilks have been rivals, and this final round of the 2009 IRC has delivered the most exciting flashpoint yet as they meet on their home ground. Meeke, who won both the opening spectator stages at Scone Palace last night, set a blistering pace on the 17km SS3 to extend his advantage despite not feeling comfortable with the Peugeot's handling.

"I wasn't really concerned but there were a few niggling issues and all you want to do is get back to service," Meeke said. "We were a bit ambitious with the tyres and opened the tread up a bit much. It takes very little at this level to lose a bit of confidence and see it reflected in your times."

The 11.5km Blackcraig stage followed and saw Wilks take the initiative, hustling his Skoda through the Scottish forests 2.9s faster than Meeke to haul back the advantage. After a change of tyres Meeke responded on SS5, the 21.5km Errochty stage, to pull out an additional seven seconds over Wilks but that advantage was halved on the penultimate stage of the day as Wilks took 5.6 of those valuable seconds back.

"We're just keeping our heads down and doing our own thing but it's important to do well," Wilks said. " There's a long way to the last stage but we're more than happy with how we're going and pushing where we can. We're not even thinking about the overall rally result, it's simply stage-by-stage."

Keeping a watching brief on the two young Britons at the front was former British and Asia-Pacific rally champion Alister McRae. The youngest member of the legendary McRae rallying dynasty has stepped in to the Proton Satria Neo S2000 to join the IRC upon the return of top-flight international rallying to Scotland.

"I've been pushing as hard as I can to get the feeling for the car," McRae said. "It's been very slippery, very muddy, and there are steep climbs and big drops that threaten to catch you out."

Mixed fortunes met the other fancied runners in this 'Battle of Britain'. Subaru driver Dave Weston Jr led the pack through the day after an early surge, despite knocking his steering alignment on a stray rock, but crashed out on the final stage of the day. Jonathan Greer and Scottish national champion David Bogie then picked up the baton in a pair of Ralliart Lancer Evo IXs, despite Bogie carrying a large portion of fir tree through SS5 following a minor 'off'.

For Keith Cronin and Adam Gould the day was one to forget. Cronin, the 2009 British rally champion, was thrown into a spin when he picked up a puncture on his Abarth Grande Punto S2000 and dropped more than 40 minutes until he and co-driver Greg Shinnors could free the car. The Irishman's day was blighted by another puncture on SS4 and a spin on SS5 before he crashed out on SS6.

Gould, who started the day in third place, the 'dream drive' as winner of the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team Peugeot 207 S2000 entry descended into nightmare territory. The 22-year-old Englishman spun on SS4 and then suffered mechanical problems which brought about retirement with water pump failure before SS6.

Adding further spice to the action has been the phenomenal pace of two Estonian crews in their two-wheel-drive Honda Civics. Although battling in the IRC 2WD Cup, Kaspar Koitla logged Honda's first overall IRC points on the Rally Russia in July and appears determined to repeat the coup in Scotland. Nevertheless Koitla is being pressed hard by his countryman and fellow Honda driver Martin Kangur as they try to secure second place in the 2WD manufacturers' standings for the Japanese giant.

The final stage of the day was held after dark, heightening the drama for the competitors, spectators and viewers. Alister McRae set a blistering target time of 11m 36.1s through the Craigvinean stage which Wilks missed by just half a second after encountering Weston's stranded car. Meeke then let fly with a sensational run to go fully 15 seconds faster and stamp his authority on the event.

At this evening's overnight halt the two battling leaders drew breath and reflected on a thrilling competition. Six further special stages fill the schedule for tomorrow's final day, with two runs through the epic 33km Loch Ard stage as a highlight for the fans - and a challenge for the crews. The battle lines are drawn and the rivals are ready and Meeke insisted that it will be a good, clean fight.

"The press likes to build it up about the rivalry with Guy but there's tremendous respect between us," Meeke said. "We started our careers on the same events and we've both got a lot of respect for each other's abilities."

RACMSA Rally of Scotland
Leading positions after SS6 of 13

1 Meeke (GB) - Peugeot 207 S2000 - 56m 35.3s
2 Wilks (GB) - Skoda Fabia S2000 - +21.2s
3 McRae (GB) - Proton Satria Neo S2000 - +1m 18.2s
4 Greer (GB) - Ralliart Lancer Evo IX - +3m 49.1s
5 Bogie (GB) - Ralliart Lancer Evo IX - +3m 54.2s
6 Armstrong (GB) - Subaru Impreza - +4m 44.4s
7 Boland (IRL) - Ralliart Lancer Evo IX - +8m 15.6s
8 Kangur (EST) - Honda Civic Type R - +8m 34.5s
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