Meeke to lead McRae salute 15 | 05 | 2015

    LESS THAN THREE weeks after winning Rally Argentina to seal the first World Rally victory of his career, Kris Meeke will lead an emotional tribute to his mentor, Colin McRae, at Knockhill this weekend.

    Seconds after Meeke climbed from his Citroen DS3 WRC having won in Argentina, rubbing tears from his eyes, he paused for a few seconds and then said: "“The one person who I owe the most isn’t here. This one’s for Colin.”

    Scotland's motorsport centre will host the two-day McRae Rally Challenge to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Lanark ace winning the World Rally Championship in 1995 behind the wheel of his famous blue Subaru.

    Such is the appeal of the iconic rally star, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in 2007, that a host a big names have agreed to take part in the rally, organised by McRae's Coltness Car Club.

    Former world champs Stig Blomqvist and Hannu Mikkola will both be in attendance. While Blomqvist will tackle the 30-mile event in a V8 Firenza, previously driven by five-times British champ Jimmy McRae, Mikkola will do demonstration laps in a Group B Audi quattro.

    Related: McRae name returns to tackle Mull Rally

    Also tackling the high-speed event, on a custom-built rally route within the confines of Knockhill, are five-time Scottish rally champ David Bogie, Alister McRae, John MacCrone and former British Touring Car champ Gordon Shedden.

    Dumfries rally ace Bogie will pilot a Ford Fiesta R5+, MacCrone — a past winner of his home event, the all-Tarmac Mull Rally — will debut brand new Fiesta R5.

    And while former British rally champ McRae, who has returned from Australia for the event, will drive a Proton Satria, Shedden will make his rally debut in a MkII Ford Escort.

    "I can't wait," the 36-year-old from Dalgety Bay laughed today, "it's going to be a blast. I've never rallied before, so it's definitely going to be a trip into the unknown."

    Shedden, fresh from powering his Honda Civic to victory in the latest BTCC round at Thruxton — a championship he now leads — will be co-driven by WRC ace Stuart Loudon from Uddingston.

    "I'm not sure whether Stuart knows what he's letting himself in for," Shedden continued, "but I've told him if he starts giving me all those strange co-driver instructions, he'll be out, because it'll all be Greek to me. A simple 'turn right here, turn left there' will do perfectly well."

    Understandably though, most eyes will be on Meeke. The 36-year-old Northern Irishman, who lived with Colin McRae's family during the formative years of his career, will drive a Citroen Xsara WRC in the same livery used by McRae when he drove for the team in 2003.

    "I need to say a huge thanks to Citroen Racing for doing this," Meeke, whose win in Argentina was the first by a Brit since McRae won the Safari Rally in 2002, said.

    "It’s obviously a special event and for me, getting the Xsara is really special. It’s a car I remember well. I remember Colin driving it when I was involved with him back in 2003.

    "The car is in the livery of the day and it’s actually one of the cars Colin drove, so for me this is a terrific way of paying tribute to him.

    "This is going to be special, and emotional, driving a works car and one that Colin actually drove himself. I can’t wait."

    Related: Rallying will vere be safe — Mikkola

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    Jim McGill


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