Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kris Meeke faces the reality of racing

British rally driver Kris Meeke has hit a wall in his quest to put together a WRC program for 2007.

"Any budget I could raise would be to do a World Rally Car," he reiterated, "and I am just starting now to, if I am completely honest, to lose a bit of motivation in the whole sport, because if you come flashing a cheque book you are brilliant and exciting and they want you to drive. If you come asking what is available without that, you are not so exciting and they don't want you to drive. It is a game where money talks. This time of year, money decides what kind of meetings you have and who you talk to and that decides what car you drive and where you drive it.

Welcome to racing Kris.

It's a sad state of affairs when someone talented like Kris has to sit back and watch slower drivers (but drivers with big sponsors) like Manfred Stohl just sidle into another full year in the WRC. As a serious musician I know how he feels: I've seen plenty of less-talented artists get record deals and go on tour because they've got the funding to secure top-level management and agents. Money talks in the 21st century, and the WRC is one of the worst offenders in motorsport in this regard (ChampCar is very guilty of this too). It's also struggling with a credibility issue, given the lack of depth in talent.

Right now, there's perhaps five really gifted drivers in top cars. Everyone else in a full-time WRC ride is there because of funding. They're good - no doubt about that - but not THAT good, and there's other better drivers who aren't there who should be: Jari-Matti Latvala, Gigi Galli, Guy Wilks, Toni Gardemeister, Francois Duval, the list goes on. The WRC needs these top drivers. When a waste of space like Matthew Wilson spends every rally in tenth or worse we never see him and he contributes nothing to the spectacle. Put Toni Gardemeister in that car, and you'd simply improve the overall competitiveness of the leaderboard.

And for heaven's sake, if Subaru don't replace Chris Atkinson with Travis Pastrana in 2008 they're just asking for a flaming bag of dogshit on their doorstep.

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