Meeke accepts full-time WRC career is over, now exploring options

David Evans, Sergio Lillo
Meeke accepts full-time WRC career is over
Meeke accepts full-time WRC career is over

Kris Meeke will spend this season considering his options after accepting his full-time career in the World Rally Championship is over following his Toyota exit.

Meeke lost his Toyota seat at the end of last season, with the squad electing to sign Sebastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera.

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While Meeke remains under contract with Toyota, he says the time has come to look elsewhere for his future in motorsport.

The Northern Irishman began his career in the World Rally Championship 17 years ago, but his topline career started with a part-programme for Citroen in 2014, which led to a full-time drive with the squad until he was dropped mid-way through '18.

He then switched to Toyota last year alongside WRC champion Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala. "I think it's not possible [to continue in WRC full-time]," said Meeke.

"At 40 years old, you know around this moment life can change a bit. "It happened now.

"I'm still in talks with Toyota to be involved, maybe in some testing, we'll see.

"I keep my options open. I look at all the things that will give me passion.

"I would have loved to continue, but the situation arrived like this and it's like that. I'm realistic. I look to the future, and there are many, many things to challenge me.

"[The] WRC has been my life from so long, it's a bubble and when you are inside, it's the most important thing to you.

"When you step outside there are many, many other challenges in life and in motorsport which can challenge you. So, yeah, I look to that and we'll see."

Meeke accepts full-time WRC career is over
Meeke accepts full-time WRC career is over

While it was a longshot, there remained a chance for Meeke to return to M-Sport in the WRC's last remaining full-time factory seat.

Meeke began his career as a designer at Dovenby Hall, but Esapekka Lappi was announced alongside Teemu Suninen in the factory Ford Fiesta WRC last week.

"When the market is like this, it's not possible [to drive at M-Sport]," said Meeke. "At this stage of my career, I have to be realistic with where it's at.

"I don't drive for nothing. I don't spend 200 days a year away from my family for nothing, so I think that's the case.

"For me, full-time in the WRC, I think it's finished."

Meeke remains highly regarded by Toyota and its team boss and four-time WRC champion Tommi Makinen, and would likely be called off the bench should the need arise through the coming season.

He will, however, face competition from the bench from Jari-Matti Latvala who is chasing sponsorship to tackle as many as five WRC rounds this season.

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