At the close of the 2015 season there was a cloud of uncertainty around Kris Meeke and his future in the FIA World Rally Championship, with no contract for 2016 there were worries that the Northern Irishman would once again be forced to sit on the side lines.
Thankfully this didn’t happen and Meeke starts the new season with a three-year contract with Citroën under his belt, racing under the Abu Dhabi Total WRT banner for the new season as the French manufacturer looks ahead to the new specification rules in 2017.
The pressure is off for Meeke as he wont start out the season challenging for the title – this year is all about development, “2016 is not just a new season, it’s the start of a new chapter in my career” said Meeke.
“I am extremely pleased to be competing at the Rallye Monte-Carlo with the Abu Dhabi Total WRT. Obviously, we are not in the same situation as the other WRC drivers. I don’t feel like I’m under a great deal of pressure, mainly because we’re not aiming for a particular result at the end of the season.
2015 Rallye Monte-Carlo saw promising pace from both Meeke and Sébastien Loeb before a strangely similar incident put them out of contention.
“At the Monte-Carlo, and at the other rallies, I’ll be looking to do my very best and get as much experience as possible. Although there are a few new stages, the course seems to be pretty similar to 2015. The major imponderable is the weather. If the cold conditions persist, we should have a lot of snow and ice on the stages.
“Instinctively, it’s a rally that I love because it sums up all the excitement of the start of a new season. But when you get to the service park and you have to make a tyre choice that will inevitably involve a compromise of some kind, the love can sometimes turn to hate! If we manage to have an error-free race and make the right calls, I think we shouldn’t be too far away from the podium.”
Meeke will be joined by 23-year-old Stéphane Lefebvre for the opening round of the championship.