Colin McRae protégé Kris Meeke will start the inaugural RallyScotland in November with a new world title after being crowned Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion following a blistering victory in the Rally San Remo.
Meeke, who was guided through his early career by the former world champ, charged through the field in his Peugeot — after a difficult opening day handicapped by brake issues on the all-tarmac event — to win in Italy.
His performance allowed him to capitalise on the demise of his main rival for the title, Skoda’s Jan Kopecky, who crashed out on the first day.
“We never could have expected this to happen before the final round in Scotland,” a slightly disbelieving Meeke, who finished 15.7secs ahead of the Abarth of Italy’s Luca Rossetti, admitted today.
“There’s so many people I have to thank for the opportunity. I’m only one link in the chain and there’s a long chain of people — stretching back to Colin — who helped make it happen and without any one of the them the chain would have been broken.
“It’s going to be fantastic to go to Scotland as champion and I’m determined to finish the season with another win in front of the thousands of Scottish fans I see as my own.”
Meeke — who will drive his Peugeot S2000 as the course car at Saturday’s McRae Forest Stages Rally in Perth, the final round of the Hankook Scottish Rally Championship — was congratulated by former world champ Robert Reid from Perth.
“It’s great to see a British driver back at the top of the sport,” Reid, who co-drove Robert Burns to the world rally championship in 2001, said. “I’ve been really impressed with the quality of Kris’s whole approach to the season.
“He’s had to stage a number of brilliant fightbacks on some of the events this year and he’s proven the promise that has been evident for a long time.”