Kris Meeke is a British rally driver and the first ever driver from Northern Ireland to win the World Rally Championship event. Meeke debuted in WRC in 2002, recorded 69 events until 2016 and winning three times, at 2015 Rally Argentina, 2016 Rally Portugal and 2016 Rally Finland. Earlier in a career, he was third in the 2005 Junior WRC and champion of the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Kris worked for M-Sport before started rallying
Kris Meeke was born on July 2, 1979, in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. His father Sydney was the rally engineer. After he gets a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Kris also joined M-Sport rally team to work as Computer Aided Designer. Kris debuted in rallying in 2000, winning the Peugeot competition for new rally drivers. His first rally car was the Peugeot 106 GTI. During 2001, Kris competed in various events across Britain, winning one rally (Swansea Bay Festival National Rally). He also had a one-off appearance with Subaru Impreza 555 at Galloway Hills Rally, winning the event.
The great Colin McRae was Meeke's mentor
In 2002, Kris met Colin McRae and Scottish legend became his mentor. Kris competed with Ford Puma S1600 in the British Rally Championship, winning the Junior championship title and finishing third in the S1600 class of British Rally Championship.
In November 2002, Meeke debuted in the WRC, participating in the Rally GB with Ford Puma. He retired from the race on the last stage. At the end of the year, Kris again participated in the Galloway Hills Rally with Subaru Impreza and again won the event.
Two Junior WRC seasons with Opel Corsa S1600
In 2003, Meeke changed the car and entered the Junior World Rally Championship with Opel Corsa S1600, prepared by Team Palmer. His best result was 2nd place at Rally Catalunya and he finished 14th in the points. He participated in seven events, retiring five times. Except JWRC, Kris competed in the British Rally Championship with the same car and finished fifth overall and first in the S1600 class.
In 2004, Meeke continued to drive Opel Corsa S1600 in the JWRC, finishing third in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo. Later in the season, he took 2nd place at Wales Rally GB, to finish seventh in the final JWRC classification. Except JWRC program, he participated in only two events, using it as a shakedown for JWRC races. At International Rally of Wales, part of the BRC, he was the winner of the S1600 class. At International Pirelli Rally in Finland, he also took class victory.
Switch to Citroën in 2005 season
On the last round of the 2004 JWRC season, at Rally Catalunya, Kris was driving the Citroën C2 S1600. It was his car for 2005 JWRC season, in which he scored his best result to date, finishing third in the final standings, behind Dani Sordo and Guy Wilks. Meeke clinched his first JWRC victory at 2005 Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Later in the season, he added third place at Sardinia and second place at ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Except JWRC program, Kris participated in the Wales Rally GB with Subaru Impreza S10 WRC, finishing ninth overall.
In 2006, Meeke continued to compete in the JWRC for the fourth consecutive season. His car was still Citroën C2 S1600. Kris took his second JWRC win at ADAC Rally Deutschland and added third place at Rally Catalunya. After six races, he was seventh in the final order of WRC juniors.
Paul Nagle joined Kris in 2007
In 2007, Meeke had a diverse scheduled of races, competing with Subaru Impreza S11 WRC at some Irish and British national events, taking the victories at International Rally of the Lakes and Ulster International Rally. He also participated in the Rallye Luxembourg with Citroën C2 R2, finishing third overall. In November 2007, he had only WRC appearance, entering Rally Ireland with Subaru Impreza S12 WRC, but retiring after nine stages. During 2007, one of Meeke's co-drivers were Paul Nagle, who became his regular navigator and they are still together in 2016.
Meeke tried five cars in 2008 season
The even more diverse program followed in 2008 when Kris tried five different cars – Renault Clio S1600, Renault Clio R3, Ford Escort MKII, Toyota Corolla WRC and Citroën Xsara WRC. His only victory was at Sol Rally Barbados, with Toyota Corolla WRC. He competed in two WRC events, In Germany with Renault Clio S1600 and in Catalunya with Renault Clio R3. In December, he closed the season with Citroën Xsara WRC at Memorial Bettega.
2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion
The milestone year for Kris was 2009 when he joined Peugeot UK Team to compete in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. He was driving the Peugeot 207 S2000, prepared by Belgian Kronos Racing. Meeke crashed at season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, but later he won three times (Brazil, Portugal and Belgium) to take the title ahead of Jan Kopecky. Except IRC program, Meeke returned to Sol Rally Barbados to drive Subaru Impreza S9 WRC and won the event. He didn't enter any WRC event.
Third place in the second IRC season
In 2010, Meeke continued to drive Peugeot 207 S2000 in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. He had the same start of the season as the year before – he crashed at Rallye Monte-Carlo and won the Rally Curitiba in Brazil. Later in the season he finished 2nd at Rally Azores and 3rd at Rally Scotland, to take third place in the championship, behind Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky.
WRC return with Mini team
Meeke again skipped all WRC events in 2010, but return to the world scene in 2011, as a member of Mini World Rally Team, to drive Prodrive-prepared Mini John Cooper Works WRC car. After four consecutive retirements in the #52 car, Meeke finally reached the finish and scored first points with fifth place at Rally Catalunya. At season's finale in Wales, he lost podium on the last stage and finished fourth.
After Mini stopped his support to WRC team and Prodrive took over all the operations, Meeke was dropped from the team and he had no drive for 2012 season. His only competitive appearance was at Lurgan Park Rally in July 2012, when he took the victory with Mini Cooper WRC.
One more come-back to the world's rally scene
Meeke returned to the world scene in August 2013, at the eighth round of the World Rally Championship. He was invited to drive #10 Citroën DS3 WRC for Abu Dhabi Citroen World Rally Team at Rally Finland, as a replacement for Khalid Al Qassimi. Meeke was running fifth when crashed on the penultimate stage of the rally. He was invited one more time to drive DS3 WRC, at Rally Australia in September, as a replacement for factory driver Dani Sordo in the #3 car. Meeke crashed again. His co-driver in both events was Chris Patterson.
Meeke and Nagle joined Citroen in 2014
Despite two crashes in 2013, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were invited to join Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT as a #3 crew for the full 2014 season. The season started with third place at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Meeke's first ever WRC podium. Kris finished in third place three more times (Argentina, Finland and France) and he was seventh in the final classification. His teammate Mads Ostberg was fifth. The team took second place in the manufacturers' order.
Maiden WRC victory at 2015 Rally Argentina
Both Meeke and Ostberg remained with Citroen in 2015. At Rally Argentina in April, Meeke snatched his first WRC victory. He won with 18 seconds advantage over Ostberg. It was the first WRC win for a British driver in the last 13 years, since Colin McRae's victory at 2002 Safari Rally. Kris dedicated a victory to his late mentor. Later in the season, Meeke was third at Rally Australia and second at Wales Rally GB, to finish fifth in the final classification. Ostberg finished one place ahead of Meeke and the team was again second in the manufacturers' order.
In 2016, Meeke stayed with Citroen. The French manufacturer officially withdrew from the WRC and started the preparation for 2017 season with newly developed Citroën C3 WRC car, built under the new rules with improved aerodynamics and stronger engines.
Two wins in 2016 WRC season
While testing the new 2017 specification car, Meeke entered selected WRC events driving DS3 WRC for Khalid Al-Qassimi's Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team. After a retirement at Rallye Monte-Carlo and 23rd place at Rally Sweden, Meeke took sensational victory at Rally Portugal in May. He was a dominant driver for the whole event and won the rally with half a minute advantage over Andreas Mikkelsen. In July, he won Rally Finland and became the first ever British driver to win one of the most popular world's rallies.
Meeke had a three-year contract with Citroen, until the end of 2018, so we will see him running with a new 380-hp Citroen C3 WRC at least for two seasons.