Rally of the Lakes (Killarney) 2007.
It was Meeke’s first time in Killarney and only his second event on tarmac in a WRC car, to top it all off he had a new co-driver who was only drafted in a couple of days before the start of the rally. Overall there were lots of last minute preparation for the crew, as Meeke’s entry was cast in doubt after the takeover of Donnelly Motorsport.

Meeke desperately needed a sponsors help to get him to the start line. Just as hope was fading away, a group of businessmen stepped in to provide the funds for him to drive a McKinstry Motorsport Impreza. It now became Meekeís turn to thank his new sponsors by winning the rally.

As usual championship leader Mark Higgins had to be one of the favourite drivers in his Pirelli backed Subaru, but their rally had hardly started when he received a puncture over stages one and three. Andreas Mikkelsen was a big surprise as he traded times with the leaders throughout the rally. Unfortunately he dropped times on stage two after a small accident that cost him 30 Seconds. On the other hand it was Eugene Donnelly who chased Meeke and took a chunk out of Meeke’s time him when he suffered a puncture. The puncture was enough to allow Donnelly to move up to first, but only one stage later; Meeke reclaimed his lead and went back into first position.

Kris MeekeSource of Picture.


Andreas Mikkelsen came back into the competition, after his earlier puncture. Mikkelsen moved up four places and back into second. Mikkelsen managed to beat the pace of Donnelly and Meeke on stage seven to get the stage win. The young Norwegianís talent was very plain to see and at just the age of 17, he must be one to look out for in the future.

Despite Kris Meeke having the wrong tyres on leg 3 he continued to get top stage times to eventually be made the rally winner. It was Meeke’s first time in Killarney, first time with his co-driver and only his second time in a world rally car on tarmac. With this win and points on the board he can hopefully get some sponsorship to win the remaining rallies.

In the end Eugene Donnelly was forced to settle for second. Donnelly although being a top driver has yet to score a victory in this championship. He will really need to win the Jim Clark Rally as that will be his opportunity to challenge Higgins’ current position.

Mikkelsen got the final podium position, although he backed off on the last stage, but judging by his pace it looks as though he is a major contender for this year’s Irish championship.

Andreas MikkelsenSource of Picture.


Mark Higgins put in a superb recovery drive over the Sunday’s stages to finish fourth, whilst a number of his rivals dropped out. Austin MacHale survived gearbox problems to arrive at the finish in fifth position ahead of his son Gareth MacHale who finished sixth.

Greg Shinnors finished seventh in his Ford Focus, and directly behind him was JJ Fleming who completed the class eight finisher inside the top ten. With the new addition of Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mark Higgins to this year’s championship the Irish rally fans will be looking forward to a close contest for the championship winner. Mark Higgins may be leading the championship by 14 points from Eugene Donnelly but it is still early days, so anything could happen. Mikkelsen is all set to continue his campaign and could spring a surprise at the Jim Clark Rally. If Meeke finds the sponsorship his pace would be unquestionable.

Mark HigginsSource of Picture.


Both Kevin Lynch and Tim McNulty succumbed to the difficult Sunday stages, with Lynch clipping a rock, which caused a flailing tyre to burst a brake pipe. Tim McNulty lasted a bit longer but ultimately he retired. Mark Higgins had just nipped ahead of McNulty after stage 12, and as McNulty fought back he went off and his rally ended with the car in a bank.

Dennis Biggerstaff was another driver that sampled the bitter taste of retirement on Leg 3 as his Impreza’s turbo cried ’enough’. Meanwhile Stephen Murphy also joined the retirement list while holding sixth overall after stage 13.

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