Kris Meeke

Kris Q&A on his new Citroen deal

Tuesday, 15th December 2015 -
Kris Q&A on his new Citroen deal

You’ve never really had job security in the WRC. So what does it mean to sign a long-term deal with such a strong manufacturer team?

‘It does seem that all the way through my career so far, I’ve only ever had a short-term commitment. Sometimes it hasn’t even been for a season, and I’ve been driving rally by rally. There’s always been that bit of extra pressure to prove yourself, to get to the next rally.
‘From my perspective, I hope the scenario is different when you have a long-term commitment, because it shows the team believes in you and what you can do. And it removes some of the question marks; it should allow me to relax and really feel part of the team. I can try to make it my team, and I can build for the future, knowing the future is secure.
‘Don’t get me wrong: there’s always pressure to perform. And it doesn’t take away any of that. But it has to help, knowing that everyone believes in you for the future.

How important was it for you to sign a deal that included some events in 2016?

‘It was vital for me to stay behind the wheel and compete next year, at least on some rallies. When Citroen announced it was pulling out and not competing in 2016 it put me in a difficult position, but we’ve managed to secure at least some rallies next year.
‘It’s important for me because of the level of experience I have. I still have only two years behind me in a WRC car in the World Rally Championship, so I’m short on experience compared with a lot of other drivers. There are still a lot of events that I need to be doing if I’m to stay sharp.
‘But all in honesty, to do the full campaign in 2016 along with all of the testing that we’ve got lined up in preparation for the new car in 2017 could be difficult. So for me it could be pretty much an ideal programme – some rallies, selected events to help experience and keep me sharp, but also the time to allow me to really get my teeth into developing the new car and try to make it my own.

You’ve been the only person really challenging the VW Polos on the timesheets. Would you like to see more teams doing this?

I think it’s in everyone’s interest to see more manufacturers at the top of the timesheets. There will be another manufacturer coming in 2017 and we’ll end up with maybe four of the top five brands in the world competing at the top of the WRC. I don’t think will have been as strong in quite a long time, actually.
‘When one team dominates, though, I’m sure it’s fun and enjoyable for that one team but in all honesty, for the good of the sport, it’ll be a lot better if two, three or four teams can all produce cars capable of winning rallies and we see them fighting for wins on every event. I think that’s what the fans want, what the spectators out on stages want.
‘It’ll help everybody because nobody wants to see someone completely dominating for four or five years. It’s just up to the other manufacturers to step up to the mark and really get their teeth into it and focus on it.

Citroen Racing was Sebastien Loeb’s team, and now you’re about to develop the first World Rally Car that he hasn’t been involved in. Does that bring pressure, and have you spoken to Seb about it?

‘No, I haven’t spoken with him. For me, in all honesty, this is what I’ve always wanted: to be in a position where I can fight for my goal, which is to be the World Rally Champion. I believe, making this decision and signing this new deal, that I can be in the right place at the right time to achieve that.
‘I feel I’m ready, I feel I’ve enough experience to really take on the development of a new World Rally Car with Citroen, and hopefully by 2017 I’ll have the right amount of experience to really fight for rally wins and be a consistent finisher in the top positions.
‘Okay, I don’t feel any extra pressure taking over from Seb; he will go down as one of the world’s best ever drivers, in any form of motorsport, let alone rallying, so he’s always going to be thought of in that way. It’s really up to me to just get on and do my job as best as possible; I believe I can do it, and maybe make my own little bit of history.’