Meeke shows his class as he shines in Monte Carlo

Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke

Kris Meeke was a happy man at the conclusion of the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo.

The Dungannon driver finished third ovrall, the first driver from the UK for many years to grace a World Rally Championship podium.

History was also made in that Kris and his co-driver Paul Nagle became the first Irish crew ever to stand on the podium at a World Rally Championship event.

“I have never witnessed conditions like these at a rally.

“It was incredibly difficult, but we achieved our goal. I had a very good feeling in the Citroen DS3 WRC.

“Monte-Carlo is always a tough rally. It is not really a tarmac rally and it is not a snow rally either.

“It has got a bit of everything. I am very pleased for those who put their faith in me.

“It is really nice to be able to pay back the team for their support with this result,” said Meeke.

Both man and machine were tested to the limit and on the final day and the first run on the Col du Turini with four studded tyres for everyone the reiging World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier (VW Polo)claimed the stage win.

Meeke was fourth fastest and his teammate Mads Ostberg finished sixth.

Then Meeke almost won his first stage of the season, but Ogier proved to be faster

and on the following stage, first on the road, Jaroslav Melicharek went off on a snow-covered section and blocked the road for the other competitors.

In the time it took to get him away again, the organisers decided to cancel this stage.

Mikko Hirvonen retired on the Power Stage while Jari-Matti Latvala set the fastest time to pick up the three bonus points.

Second on the final stage Ogier won the rally ahead of Bryan Bouffier while a delighted Meeke collected the final Power Stage bonus point and secured his first- ever podium finish in the WRC.

Meanwhile conditions were little better at Kirkistown as blinding rain made the going difficult for competitors in the New Year Stages Rally which saw Kieron

Graffin take the honours at the wheel of a Mitsubishi EVO from Paddy McVeigh Subaru and George Robinson driving a Mitsubishi.

Emma McKinstry daughter of rallying legend Kenny McKinstry finished fourth overall driving a Subaru WRC.