Belfast Telegraph

Kris Meeke is delighted to remain at Citroen

By Sammy Hamill

The message on Yves Matton's phone cover reads: 'If you never try you never know'.

The Citroen Racing boss decided to give Kris Meeke a try in the 2014 World Rally Championship and now he feels vindicated enough to re-sign him and co-driver Paul Nagle for next year too.

Matton admitted that the choice had been a risk, but said the Ulsterman had now clearly proved himself. "When we chose Kris Meeke for this season, we took a bit of a gamble," he said. "But he has improved with pretty much every rally and has now become a complete driver."

Meeke, who nursed his car home to sixth place on Rally GB at the weekend to ensure Citroen finished runners-up in the WRC manufacturers' championship, says he owes a great deal to his Belgian boss.

"He gave me a chance when no one else would," he said, "and it is fantastic to have the opportunity to continue to work together.

"This first full season has been spent learning about the WRC and in the second half of the year, I was able to show part of my potential. There's room for improvement, but I now have some decent foundations to build on next year."

Meeke, now 35, won the Intercontinental championship for Citroen's sister company Peugeot in 2009 before moving to the WRC with the new BMW Mini team in 2011.

But he was left on the sidelines when the Prodrive project collapsed at the end of the year.

It was Matton who offered him a way back, first as the test driver for both Citroen and Peugeot and then pairing him with Norwegian Mads Ostberg in a new-look team for 2014.

It has been a roller-coaster ride since then, Meeke scoring four podium finishes in his first season, including the classic Monte Carlo and Finland rounds, but crashing on several occasions.

But Matton sees the potential, saying: "Kris is a competitive driver on all surfaces, capable of being quick on tarmac and on gravel.

"This versatility is a real asset for Citroen Racing."

A decision on whether Ostberg stays with the team will be announced next week.

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