This weekend’s running of the Barum Czech Rally sees Peugeot and their champion driver Kris Meeke head into the Skoda stronghold of the Czech Republic, to take on both local knowledge and fanatical partisan crowds in the Zlin based event.
Defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Meeke finished second in last year’s running of the event as he marched on to take the drivers crown. However, he is fully aware of the challenge he has on his hands to defeat local hero Jan Kopecky again this time out, and even admits that even if he had not suffered a puncture to drop him off the pace, that he would probably have not managed to overhaul the Czech last year.
“I picked up a puncture on the super-special through the streets of Zlin. I know exactly where I hit the kerb, and I won’t be making the same mistake twice. I spent the next two days fighting my way back up to second place. Even without that puncture, though, I don’t believe I would have been able to catch Jan Kopecky who was very quick on home soil”, said Meeke.
Meeke has not enjoyed the best of season’s so far in 2010,. and will be looking for a solid performance in the Zlin based event, instead of a spectacular one.
“This time round, given how the first part of the season has gone, I will be pleased to finish on the podium. I really enjoy the Barum Rally. It’s as near as the IRC gets to the sort of event I am familiar with back home in Ireland. It’s fast, tricky and varied, with plenty of surprises. You’ve constantly got your work cut out because the grip keeps changing all the time”, added Meeke.
Despite that fact, Meeke is firmly of the opinion that he and his team are better prepared for the event than last year
“Peugeot Sport’s engineers have clearly done their homework. The 207 S2000 has taken a leap forward in terms of driveability. Its handling is progressive and predictable, which means I now feel particularly confident over the bumps and changes of grip. I feel optimistic, but I don’t want to get carried away given the number of times I’ve put too much faith in my chances this year. That said, I haven’t changed the way I approach each rally. I still have a mathematical chance of defending my title and I will continue to give it my best shot all the way. I’m not someone who gives up easily!” explained Meeke.