Monday, March 4, 2024

Kris Meeke returning to Dakar Rally in 2024

World Rally Championship veteran Kris Meeke is back for more rally raid in 2024 as he will race an Overdrive OT3 for GRallyTeam at the Dakar Rally, competing in the Challenger (formerly T3) category. Wouter Rosegaar will once again serve as his co-driver after originally being set to race with Kees Koolen.

Meeke entered his first and only Dakar to date in 2021, racing a PH Sport Zephyr in T3 with Rosegaar by his side. The start came after he attended the 2020 race and hoped to enter some rallies like the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and Dubai International Baja before the COVID-19 pandemic shelved those plans. Consequently, he arrived at Dakar with virtually no competitive rally raid experience, but quickly set the pace when he topped his class in the Prologue stage.

However, a spare tyre caught fire in his car and burned out its electronics the next day, one in a line of mechanical issues that prevented him from contending for the overall victory. Nonetheless, Meeke still claimed three more stages afterwards including podium finishes and two wins in the final three legs.

For 2022, he was entrusted with reserve duties after Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Giniel de Villiers tested positive for COVID-19. While de Villiers was ultimately cleared for the race, Meeke was able to gain some seat time in a premier Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ and has been open about wanting to race in the Ultimate (T1) class someday. Since then, the Irishman continued to dabble in various rally and rallycross events such as competing in Nitrocross and returning to the WRC at the 2023 Rally de Portugal in honour of his late fellow Irishman Craig Breen.

Meeke has over two decades of experience in the WRC, including being a full-timer between 2014 and 2019 with five race wins and a best points finish of fifth in 2015. He won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2009.

GRallyTeam is owned by Guillaume de Mévius, finished third in T3 in 2023. He raced part-time for the rest of the year to focus on running the team, which finished second in the FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas overall championship with his brother Ghislan. Guillaume will move up to Ultimate for 2024 in a Hilux prepared by Overdrive Racing, who also builds the OT3.

The 2024 Dakar Rally commences on 5 January.