Kris Meeke answered those critics who have been casting doubts over his position as a works Citroen driver in the FIA World Rally Championship by delivering a top performance in the first full day of action on Rally Finland.
The past few weeks have seen criticism towards the Ulster driver even from within the Citroen Team, aimed at a string of unfortunate incidents on previous rounds. However, many tend to forget that Meeke is the only driver to have won a round of the World Rally Championship for Citroen in Argentina in a season which has been dominated by the superior Volkswagen Polos.
“It seems fashionable to question my career whenever anything happens, I do not know why that is but it is fine, it does not bother me,” said Meeke.
The Dungannon driver was fighting for the overall lead in Finland early on Friday with the reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier in his works Volkswagen Polo, with Meeke setting second fastest times in the two opening stages.
Throughout the day he was constantly in touch with the Polos in what is the fastest round in the series.
Special stage seven witnessed Meeke topping the time sheets as he edged closer to Ogier.
Yet it was Ogier’s teammate Jari-Matti Latvala who swept into the lead with an advantage of 2.6 seconds with Meeke third overall and looking forward to eight stages on Saturday and the final two on Sunday.
Meeke added: “For sure not the perfect day, here in Finland you have to be one hundred percent to get close, I did everything I could to get close.”
Meeke did report at one point he felt that he had lost partial drive with his Citroen, yet he was the only serious challenger to Ogier and his team-mates.