Kris Meeke mapping out his route to success
As he begins the build up to the Monte Carlo Rally and the start of the 2016 World championship season, Kris Meeke sees his partial programme this year as an ideal scenario.
And he thinks it gives him a realistic shot at winning the World title in 2017.
The Dungannon driver, who turned down a lucrative offer from Toyota to stay with Citroen for the next three years, will use the current DS3 WRC on selected rounds of this year's championship, starting in Monte Carlo later this month, but his main focus will be the development of a new car to comply with revised regulations which come into force in 2017.
Meeke believes it will be tough for teams to contest all 14 rounds this year AND work on the development of their new cars.
"Look at the schedule from August to November," he said. "You're not going to have time to draw breath if you're competing in the whole championship. Trying to do testing as well will be very, very difficult.
"I think we have the ideal scenario. We have the freedom and the time to test and we have a number of rallies to keep us sharp as well. I guess the proof will be in the pudding, but I'm pretty happy with it."
Despite recording his first WRC win in Argentina last April, Meeke admits the past two years have been difficult for him, and for the Citroen team, but points out there were mitigating circumstances.
"When the Volkswagen juggernaut arrived, Citroen was just moving its focus to the WTCC [World Touring Car Championship] and the rally car essentially free-wheeled for a couple of years," he said.
"That combined with Sebastien Loeb retiring from rallying and me arriving with zero experience made it hard for us. But when we come to the start of 2017, I have no doubt we're going to be ready for them."
And the World title in 2017 is the target. "I have everything in place now. This is the chance I've been waiting for," he added.
Meeke will be joined by rising French star Stephane Lefebrve on the Monte Carlo Rally which starts on January 21 and for round two in Sweden next month he will have Craig Breen as team-mate.