WORLD rallying start Kris Meeke is to drive one of the iconic Mini WRC machines at this year’s Lurgan Park Rally on July 28.
Over the years the Rally, backed by Orchard Motorsport, has enjoyed an unrivalled reputation for attracting star names and drivers.
With the addition of Kris Meeke, along with Darren Gass going for his hat-trick of wins this year’s event could be one of the best ever.
Kenny McKinstry, long dubbed ‘The King of the Park’, will certainly not be out of the reckoning either as he bids for his 12th Lurgan Park victory.
Indeed when Kris Meeke was presented with the opportunity of driving the state of the art McGeehan Motorsport Mini WRC, he didn’t hesitate.
Kris said: “I grew up with the Lurgan Park Rally. I remember hiding in the bushes to watch Michael Sundstrom in a Peugeot 205 T16, and so many other great drivers over the years. I’ve only competed there once. That was in a Mk2 Escort.
“It won’t be a case of sallying round this time. I’ll definitely be trying to win. It’s a difficult proposition – it’s in between a rally and an autotest, specialised. Making the pace notes on a bicycle is a long way from a world rally stage. I’m happy enough to give it a go. I am looking forward to it.”
The Meeke drive is backed by event sponsor Brian Stinson’s Orchard Motorsport concern in Armagh, as well as the Rushmere Shopping Centre Craigavon, and McGeehan Motorsport themselves.
Indeed Derek McGeehan hopes to enter and compete, with Laurie Smith co-driving, in a second Mini WRC. This is a new right hand drive car due to be delivered to McGeehan’s Draperstown workshop by Prodrive just in time for the rally.
The car Kris Meeke will use is the left hand drive version, the same as he drove on the World Rally Championship. Gerry McVeigh Cars is also lending its weight to the Meeke entry, and indeed Gerry will co-drive.
The North Armagh Motor Club’s Rally, all within the environs of Craigavon Borough Council’s beautiful Lurgan Park, has a proud history of a family day out motorsport event.
It first took place in 1980, when the late, great Bertie Fisher won in a Sydney Meeke prepared Escort.
Kris Meeke’s entry this year marks another turn of the wheel.