Belfast Telegraph

Monte Carlo bid will show Citroen on right road: Meeke

 

By Sammy Hamill

After the traumas - and two notable highs as well - of 2017 Kris Meeke just wants a solid start to the new World Rally Championship season in Monte Carlo this week.

Sure, he would love to win the iconic Monte - and he is capable of emulating fellow Ulster winners Ronnie Adams and Paddy Hopkirk - but more than anything the Dungannon driver wants to see evidence that his Citroen team have nailed down the issues which plagued their troublesome C3 WRC last year.

Yes, Meeke won in Mexico and Spain but too often he and team-mate Craig Breen had their confidence shattered by a car that was unpredictable and downright scary at times.

They have worked hard, he says, to correct its wayward handling faults but he won't know for sure until he and co-driver Paul Nagle head up into the icy Alps tomorrow evening.

"We know 2017 didn't go to plan or as we anticipated. So it's fair to say that we come into 2018 quite humble, determined to just keep our heads down and put a lot of things right. I'm speaking for myself but also from a technical point of view," he said.

"So we'll take it rally by rally and just try to build something as we go along. Everyone wants to put points on the board nice and early, though, so let's try to get Monte Carlo under our belt and see where we are."

Meeke has, however, been encouraged by his test sessions ahead of the rally when he got a preview of what possibly lies ahead over the next four days.

"The Monte is all about changeable conditions and that's pretty much what I got during the test. There was heavy rain on the first day and then it dried out in the afternoon. The second day started completely dry, and then the snow arrived, maybe 20cm of the stuff - perfect."

But Meeke admits he can't be sure Citroen have closed the gap on their rivals.

"In some respects we are in the same place as a year ago because testing on your own doesn't really tell you where you are relative to everyone else," he said.

"I know Ford, Hyundai and Toyota haven't been sitting still and it's impossible to say how the gains that we've made - and we have made gains - match up against their improvements."

The fickle nature of the Monte may not be a true indicator of Citroen's prospects for 2018 but Meeke will settle for signs they are moving in the right direction.

Belfast Telegraph

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