The head of Škoda Motorsport has confirmed that his previous offer to Ulsterman Kris Meeke to compete in WRC2 this season – the second tier of the FIA World Rally Championship – still stands.
Last summer, Michal Hrabánek went on the record to say he would be keen to secure the services of Meeke who had been helping the Czech firm develop its Fabia Rally2 car in Finland at the time.
Meeke – a five time winner in the World Rally Championship – has been without a drive since the end of the 2019 campaign.
His seat was snapped up by eight-time champion Sebastien Ogier after the Frenchman was forced to turn to Toyota following the withdrawal of Citroen from the series.
If a deal is to be reached it would be on the basis that Meeke would join forces with one of Skoda’s customer teams, much in the same way Andreas Mikkelsen did with Toksport in last year’s WRC2.
“We enjoy working with Kris,” said Hrabánek, who has known Meeke since the turn of the last decade when they were both competing in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
“But given that we do not have a factory team, we are not considering taking him to the stages. However, we would be more than happy to see him in one of our customer Fabia Rally2 evo cars.
“While Škoda Motorsport is not planning on establishing a factory team for 2022, many customer teams consult with us on selecting drivers for their championship entries,” continued Hrabánek.
“Kris is one of the drivers that can offer teams experience from many types of rally cars, excellent results as well as appropriate media attention, which is also important to teams and sponsors.”
What appears to have endeared Meeke to Hrabánek is the methodical approach he has taken to his testing responsibilities with Škoda Motorsport – a role he performed throughout 2016 when he led the development of Citroen Racing’s new C3 World Rally Car as part of his three-year deal.
“We are very satisfied with Kris and are always excited about working with him in testing,” said Hrabánek, who has worked alongside many successful drivers, including Mikkelsen, Jan Kopecky, Esapekka Lappi and Kalle Rovanpera.
“He is very professional and dedicated to his work from morning to night and puts his heart and soul into the project, envisioning the optimal outcome even before the car is finished.
“Thanks to this level of engagement, the team can cover many kilometres in a day. He takes an active interest in what we do and how we can improve the car.
“He is very intelligent and takes into consideration the fact we are not just building a car for the WRC but rallies around the globe.”