VIDEO: Meeke holds fourth after Rally Sweden

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World rally star and KDM Hire brand ambassador Kris Meeke has continued his solid start to the FIA World Rally Championship by consolidating fourth place in the standings after finishing sixth at Rally Sweden.

The Dungannon-born driver also picked up the coveted award for the longest jump of 41 metres over the famous Colin’s Crest.

Kris beat off a fierce challenge from multiple world champion Sebastien Loeb and scored enough points to help his Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team storm to the top of the manufacturer title race after two rounds.

Meeke was in confident form before the rally after a strong three-day test session in snowy conditions. His Yaris WRC car was well-equipped for the winter weather with special studded tyres, each brandishing 384 metal pins to bite into the ice and find grip.

However, a week of warmer temperatures saw much of the ice covering the Swedish forest roads turn to slush and his running position meant Meeke was at a distinct disadvantage.

He battled through the unwelcome conditions, picking up the pace in the mornings after an overnight freeze and moved to challenge for a podium place. But the slushy afternoons forced him to back off and maintain his position as other drivers, including the reigning world champion, slid off the road and got wedged in snow banks.

Meeke held off a final-day charge from Loeb and cruised to the finish line in Torsby with a solid sixth, his second in two events. It keeps him in the championship race and he’s now even more familiar with his new co-driver, car and team, ready to pick up the pace when the championship moves to gravel.

That happens at the next round at Rally Mexico in three weeks time, an event he has won before. The high-altitude stages in Guanajuato famously drain energy from rally car engines but Meeke will be keen to build on his fine start by picking up the pace on the dusty roads.

Kris Meeke said: “Our fortunes on this rally can really be traced back to Friday, when our position at the end of the leg compromised our place in the running order on Saturday morning. Still, I had a good feeling in the Yaris WRC and it was good to get to the end of a really challenging event with no major problems and some points.

“I was also pleased to get the trophy for the biggest jump over the famous Colin’s Crest. Mexico is a rally where I’ve had success in the past, and we’ll be looking to get back onto the top step of the podium this time out as well. We’re fourth in the championship standings so that’s still a good platform for the rest of our season.”

Dungannon-born Kris Meeke and Sebastien Marshall of Great Britain compete in their Toyota Gazoo WRT Toyota Yaris WRC during the Shakedown of the WRC Sweden on February 14 in Torsby, Sweden.

Dungannon-born Kris Meeke and Sebastien Marshall of Great Britain compete in their Toyota Gazoo WRT Toyota Yaris WRC during the Shakedown of the WRC Sweden on February 14 in Torsby, Sweden.