Citroen job just rewardfor Meeke and Nagle

The recent announcement that Tyrone’s Kris Meeke and his Killarney co-driver Paul Nagle will lead the new look Abu Dhabi Citroen team in next season’s World Rally Championship is a tribute to their perseverance as much as their ability.

Citroen job just rewardfor Meeke and Nagle

Just two years ago the pair seemed set for a full WRC campaign with the then new MINI WRC outfit. Unfortunately, the deal fell through leaving them disillusioned. Meeke returned to Citroen to continue his role as a test driver often accompanied by Nagle, who subsequently reverted to the IRC where he competed with Waterford’s Craig Breen.

The 34-year-old Fossa native is one of a select band of talented Irish co-drivers. He cut his teeth in Irish rallying and was also successful in Britain and built up valuable experience with several drivers including five times Irish champion Eugene Donnelly. His big break came in 2005 when he began co-driving for Gareth MacHale.

“I did the National Forest series and that led to rounds of the Tarmac series and onwards to the WRC in 2006. That year, we did nine rounds, finishing sixth in Mexico. That has probably helped me to get where I am today, you just can’t buy that experience.”

He met Kris Meeke, who was seeking a co-driver, and the pair won the IRC at their first attempt in 2009.

Nagle is the first Motorsport Ireland licence holder to compete in the WRC as a works co-driver, he will also be their highest ranking licence holder.

“Monte Carlo will be very tough as we have never competed in Sweden, in fact never did anything on snow while Mexico will be another tough event for us,” he said.

“We need patience and get points on the board for the first three rounds. Then, when we start going to rallies that Kris has done this year, we have to start showing speed. The data we have from Citroen is phenomenal, we have Sebastien Loeb’s engineer and all the mechanics that have won the championships over the past ten years.”

Elsewhere another Irish co-driver Chris Patterson, who actually sat with Meeke in Finland and Australia earlier this season, will partner Khalid Al Qassimi (Citroen DS3 WRC) on selected WRC rounds along with the Middle East Rally championship.

Organisers of the Circuit of Ireland Rally have named Belfast as the host city for their event, the third round of the 2014 European Rally Championship.

The Rally HQ and Service Park will be located in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and the start and finish of the rally will take place in the city.

The first tarmac rally on the 12-strong ERC, the Circuit of Ireland will have its ceremonial start on Thursday April 17 in central Belfast. The two-day rally then kicks off on Friday April 18 covering some 230 competitive kilometres with stages in Belfast and counties Down and Antrim.

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