Kris Meeke believes the pressure he felt last season by the result-driven demands of his Citroën team has been lifted as he prepares for the new FIA World Rally Championship season at the Rallye Monte-Carlo that kicks off on Friday and ends on Monday.
The Ulsterman had to compromise all-out attack with the French squad’s desire for strong points finishes in its ultimately successful bid to finish runner-up in the 2015 manufacturers’ standings.
Citroën is stepping back from World Rally Championship (WRC) for a season as it developed a new car for 2017’s new technical regulations. Meeke will drive a DS 3 in several European rounds for the PH Sport-run Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team, which will not score points.
“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,” he said.
The Ulsterman, for whom this will be his eighth Rallye Monte Carlo, has a three-year deal to develop and drive Citroën’s new challenger and said 2016 was the start of a new chapter in his career.
“At Monte Carlo, and at the other rallies, I’ll be looking to do my very best and get as much experience as possible,” added Meeke, who will be joined for the season-opener by Frenchman Stéphen Lefebvre.
The team will prepare for the four-day rally with two days of testing near the event base in Gap this weekend.
The DMACK World Rally Team has also revealed the livery of its Ford Fiesta RS that Ott Tänak will drive in 2016.
The team has registered for the manufacturers’ championship for the first time and has signed the 28-year-old Estonian after he was released by M-Sport World Rally Team, for whom he endured a disappointing 2015 season.