What would you tell Kris Meeke?

meeke-2301141Kris Meeke probably has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

But he simply shrugged it off after an inspiring performance in Monte Carlo, shredding apprehensions that his World Rally Championship career was on its last legs, particularly after the end of last season marked by two crashes in his two outings.

Instead, the 34-year-old was offered a lifeline by Citroen with strict instructions not to mess up what could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“To know I have a future is important and not that every stage and every rally is the only chance to prove what’s possible. It’s nice to prove that when I have an opportunity I can manage a rally, look to the future and see the bigger picture,” Meeke pointed out.

With the task of pillaring Citroen’s resurgence after star Sebastien Loeb’s departure and Mikko Hirvonen’s disappointment, Meeke took on the mantle with much aplomb.

meeke-2301142Meeke also has the unofficial responsibility of revitalising and reviving British enthusiasm in rallying, a bit latent of late, which could jolt demand in television stations to rally across Europe to cover the sport.

So, no pressure for Meeke in Monte Carlo; a glamorous Principality attracting the world’s press for the much-awaited Loeb-bereft season-opener complete with a new manufacturer, plenty of hopes and myriad prospects.

Remember, Meeke has to juggle to prove his worth to Citroen, build his confidence and resuscitate his career at the top level, fill in the void left by Loeb and Hirvonen, and entertain his fellow countrymen, all at the same time.

And what transpired on the opening day, particularly in the morning stage, was nothing short of chaos with the slippery snow catching out several drivers as they slid through the treacherous conditions. And our protagonist, Meeke, never had the experience of racing on Michelin’s winter tyre before the start of the event.

All set?

Gifted with sheer pace, all he had to do was keep his four wheels on the road. And he did. He never dropped below third place at the end of each day of the rally and topped it off with a point in the power stage at the finish.

Those in front may have got more points but they wouldn’t earn any for grace. Winner Sebastien Ogier by his own admission was lucky, on several occasions, while the impressive Bryan Bouffier hit a wall and survived, then spun, and had to contend with an ill-prepared co-driver on his way to second place.

No dramas for Meeke though.

meeke-2301143“This has been an incredibly difficult rally. Every stage was a surprise. There was just no consistency in the conditions and it came with a big sting in the tail that was Turini,” Meeke reflected. “I saw a lot of drivers were having some hot moments pushing a lot, including Seb… I did not have one big moment and there were no surprises throughout the rally.”

Even his co-driver Paul Nagle made a discovery.

“It was a different Kris Meeke on this rally. There were no moments, no dramas or anything like that. He did an incredible job,” Nagle said. “We have to give credit to Kris for this result.”

Those behind him stumbled as well and largely limped home battered in the battle with the tricky Monte Carlo’s terrain and treachery.

The mightily-imposing Robert Kubica may have perhaps relegated Meeke from the podium but the Pole didn’t manage to keep his Ford on all fours. Kubica crashed out, something which Meeke has had plenty of experience with, but then the Briton has learned from those experiences.

It’s just been one rally, as Meeke reminded all, but the weight of the celestial sphere on his shoulders has already doubled. But if he can back off a bit and keep it together in one event, perhaps the anticipation could be rolled back to allow him to flourish.

meeke-2301144Perhaps Ayn Rand best summed it up for him 57 years ago.

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”

“I… don’t know. What… could he do? What would you tell him?”

“To shrug.”

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