Loved by fans the world over for his spectacular, flat-out driving style, 44-year-old Meeke is a five-time World Rally Championship (WRC) event winner.
His five WRC wins included success in the world’s most famous event, Rally Finland, and came with French manufacturer Citroen. He also drove factory cars at the highest level for Mini, and the all-conquering Toyota Gazoo Racing.
It will be his first visit to the famed Otago Rally, but one that Meeke is already looking forward to with great excitement.
He’ll be at the wheel of a Ford Escort RS1800 previously driven to victory by rallying greats such as Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen, and recently Mads Ostberg and Markko Martin.
“When I received the invitation, there was no hesitation in agreeing to it,” the Irishman said.
“The Otago Rally has a big reputation, and coming to the South Island of New Zealand is something that any rally driver would look forward to.”
Just last month Meeke contested the five-day Roger Albert Clark Rally in the United Kingdom in a Ford Escort RS1800, but unfortunately retired from the rally lead early on with an engine problem.
“I’ve always loved competing in the BDA Escorts, and the opportunity to tackle the fast and open Otago Rally roads in the famous Rossendale Escort is too good to miss.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the competitors and fans as I know they love their motorsport.”
The Otago Rally is thrilled with Meeke’s addition to next year’s entry list, which continues the tradition of having a WRC legend contest the rally each year.
“We’re delighted that Kris accepted our invitation, and have always hoped he would compete here one day,” event spokesman, Roger Oakley, said.
“Everyone in rallying knows how fast and spectacular Kris is, and along with his reputation for engaging with the fans, he’s going to be hugely popular.
“The competitors in the Otago Classic Rally have got a world-class competitor to compare themselves against.”
The 2024 Otago Rally will offer 275 kilometres of entirely public road stages, with no stage being repeated.
Also counting as the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the event has already attracted intentions to enter from 45 crews, including 10 internationals.
It is expected that a full field of over 100 crews will start the rally in Dunedin’s Octagon on Friday, April 12.
Intending competitors can register their intention to enter via the event website, while spectators can now access the 2024 rally map.
The Otago Rally gratefully acknowledges the Premier Event grant support of the Dunedin City Council.