Five days after he was drenched in Champagne and torrential rain as he celebrated on the Esplanade of Stirling Castle, Dungannon’s Kris Meeke has been excluded from the results of the inaugural RallyScotland.
Hours after 30-year-old Meeke and the thousands of spectators had celebrated what had been believed as being the result of the final round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge at the weekend, the Irishman’s Peugeot was found to have a suspect part which was underweight.
Immediately the result of the rally, which had been lauded as a terrific success by competitors and spectators, was thrown into doubt.
The questionable part, the front subframe of his Peugeot 207 S2000, was subsequently weighed three times. Each time, a different weight was registered. In the end, the rally’s chief scrutineer ordered that the part be weighed at a Government Weights & Measures Office.
This was carried out in Scotland and the result, announced today, confirmed the part was below the minimum weight of 9.68kg and outwith the -2% permissible margin.
As a result, Meeke and his Peugeot were excluded from the results, handing the victory to the Skoda of Darlington’s Guy Wilks. Lanark’s Alister McRae was promoted to second in his Proton, with Belfast’s Jonny Greer third.
Meeke’s exclusion though does not affect his or Peugeot’s IRC titles as these were sealed on the penultimate round in Italy.
“After due deliberation the stewards noted that Peugeot UK and Peugeot Sport admitted lack of control in the manufacture of this subframe,” the official statement read. “The stewards also recognised there was no fraudulent intent on behalf of the entrant or manufacturer.”
Peugeot had initially indicated prior to yesterday’s decision that it would appeal if Meeke was excluded, but the French manufacturer and the UK-based rally team have accepted the Stewards’ decision.
“Of course it’s unfortunate,” a Peugeot spokesman said yesterday, “but we fully accept the Stewards’ decision.” Crucially, so marginal was the weight difference that it would not have improved the performance of the car in any way.
Meanwhile, the elevation of Wilks to winner of the first RallyScotland was welcomed at Skoda.
“It’s a terrific result for us,” a Skoda spokeswoman said, “but in many ways it feels a bit flat; a bit after the Lord Mayor’s Show. Sure the records will always show that a UK Skoda driven by Guy won the rally, but we’d far rather have celebrated it in true fashion on Saturday.”
Skoda is expected to confirm within the next few weeks that it will join Meeke’s Peugeot and McRae’s Proton in a three-way British assault on the IRC next season.