Irish duo Meeke and Nagle out of Monte Carlo season opener

IRISH interest in next month’s Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 2012 World Rally Championship, has been severely diluted as Tyrone’s Kris Meeke and his Kerry co-driver, Paul Nagle do not appear on the 89-strong entry list that was announced earlier this week.

Just before Christmas, it appears that Meeke/Nagle were dropped by the Mini WRC team in favour of Frenchman Pierre Campana, who has paid to take the No. 52 entry in Monte Carlo that takes place from January 18-22.

Meeke won the British Junior Championship before he went on to contest the FIA junior series.

In 2009, along with his Killarney co-driver, Paul Nagle, they won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge series on board a Peugeot with event victories in Brazil, Portugal, Belgium and San Remo. The following year, they finished third in the IRC.

Subsequently, they appeared to have made the big breakthrough when they signed a three-year contract with the Mini WRC outfit.

Ever since Paddy Hopkirk (Mini) won the rally in 1964, the event has been a favourite with Irish fans and many were eagerly awaiting the Meeke/Nagle participation in Monte. The pair are now in the middle of a three year contract that, for 2011 at least, appears will be mainly confined to testing unless budgets can be found for rounds of the WRC.

The No. 52 car will be on a paid drive for any customer. As yet, there is no official confirmation from the team. Spaniard, Dani Sordo, who joined the team from Citroen, will drive the No. 37 car.

Meanwhile, the entry for the Monte Carlo Rally includes 15 World Rally Car entries headed by world champion Sebastien Loeb in his Citroen DS3 along with his new team mate, Mikko Hirvonen.

The Ford outfit features Jari Matti Latvala and new recruit, Petter Solberg (Norway), who will be co-driven by Irishman, Chris Patterson.

There are private Fiesta WRC entries for Matthew Wilson, Henning Solberg, Martin Prokop, Francois Delecour, Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak.

Elsewhere, Volkswagen, who will enter the 2013 WRC, have entered a pair of Skoda Fabia S2000’s forSebastien Ogier and Kevin Abbring respectively.

Irish interest will feature Waterford’s Craig Breen (Fiesta S2000) and Wexford’s Eamonn Boland (Mitsubishi). Breen will contest the WRC S2000 series in 2012 while Boland is a regular competitor in the event.

He has competed in seven or eight events over the last two decades, four of which have been with his Waterford co-driver, Mickey Joe Morrissey.

The pair, who had originally planned to contest the Artic Rally, until it clashed with Monte Carlo, are also expected to compete in Rally Sweden.

However, due to Boland’s business commitments, their outings in other rounds of the WRC are likely to be curtailed until the end of the season.

Michele Mouton, the manager of the FIA World Rally Championship and president of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission has been awarded the rank of Chevalierof the Légion d’Honneur by France’sPresident, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The former vice champion in the 1982 FIA World Rally Championship was honoured for her impressive career as a competitor and for her roles at the FIA and her organisation of the globally-renowned Race of Champions. Mouton said: “It is a great honour when your country recognises what you have achieved.

“In the bottom of my heart this medal is for my father who did everything for me, including making the decision I should become a driver rather than a co-driver, because I never even thought of becoming a rally driver.”

Mouton is the first and only woman driver to win a round of the FIA World Rally Championship. She won four World Championship rallies in the 1980s and in 1982, finished runner-up in the WRC.

To date, organisers of the Galway International Rally, the opening round of the Irish Tarmac Championship, have received 57 entries.

Last year’s winner, Tim McNulty (Subaru WRC) will defend his title and Welshman, Mel Evans (Subaru WRC) could be amongst those opposition.

Officials of the Killarney and District Motor Club remain hopeful that the Killarney Historic Rally will gain inclusion in the 2013 European Historic Championship.

This year’s event was vetted by relevant personnel who were impressed with all aspects of the event. A decision is expected early next year.

More in this section

CourtsMotorsportPlace: TyronePlace: Monte CarloPlace: BrazilPlace: PortugalPlace: BelgiumPlace: MontePlace: NorwayPerson: MeekePerson: NaglePerson: Kris MeekePerson: KerryPerson: Paul NaglePerson: Pierre CampanaPerson: KillarneyPerson: Paddy HopkirkPerson: Dani SordoPerson: Sebastien LoebPerson: Mikko HirvonenPerson: Jari Matti LatvalaPerson: Petter SolbergPerson: Chris PattersonPerson: Matthew WilsonPerson: Henning SolbergPerson: Martin ProkopPerson: Francois DelecourPerson: Evgeny NovikovPerson: Ott TanakPerson: OgierPerson: Kevin AbbringPerson: Craig BreenPerson: Eamonn BolandPerson: BreenPerson: BolandPerson: Mickey Joe MorrisseyPerson: Michele MoutonPerson: Nicolas SarkozyPerson: MoutonPerson: Tim McNultyPerson: Mel EvansEvent: Monte CarloEvent: Monte Carlo rallyEvent: 2012 World Rally ChampionshipEvent: ChristmasEvent: British Junior ChampionshipEvent: Intercontinental Rally Challenge seriesEvent: RemoEvent: IRCEvent: WRC S2000Event: Artic RallyEvent: Rally SwedenEvent: WRCEvent: World RallyEvent: 1982 FIA World Rally ChampionshipEvent: FIA World Rally ChampionshipEvent: WorldEvent: Galway International RallyEvent: Irish Tarmac ChampionshipEvent: Killarney Historic RallyEvent: 2013 European Historic ChampionshipOrganisation: IrishOrganisation: Mini WRCOrganisation: PeugeotOrganisation: FordOrganisation: VolkswagenOrganisation: MitsubishiOrganisation: ChampionshipOrganisation: FIA Women in Motorsport CommissionOrganisation: France’sPresidentOrganisation: FIAOrganisation: Subaru WRCOrganisation: District Motor Club

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