Kris Meeke

Kris starts testing 2017 Citroen

Wednesday, 27th April 2016 -
Kris starts testing 2017 Citroen

Kris has started testing his new challenger for the 2017 season, which brings in new rules designed to make the World Rally Cars faster and more spectacular to watch.

The as-yet-unnamed car made its testing debut at Chateau Lastours in the south of France, after only a brief shakedown test beforehand at the Citroen Racing factory near Versailles. Chateau Lastours is renowned for its rough terrain and challenging roads, but Kris and co-driver Paul Nagle were able to rack up plenty of kilometres in the first morning of running, without any major problems.

This allowed them to get down to set-up work relatively early in the scheduled four days of running. Kris and Paul duly completed three days of mileage, before flying off to complete the Rally Argentina recce and handing the testing duties in France over to Craig Breen.

‘When I joined the Citroën Racing fold two years ago, the priority was the WTCC and the development of the WRC was fairly limited,’ Kris said. ‘Now, you can feel there’s a real energy, with engineers coming back to rally with experience they have gathered on the track. The Citroën Racing machine is up and running at full power and that motivates me to work even harder. Together, we can all do something really special in the future.

‘It’s always exciting to drive a car for the first time. But this is different, this is the start of a major new programme for Citroën Racing and a new era for the WRC. That’s what makes this moment so special. I know that everyone has put in a lot of work to build this new car. So it’s special for them too. Now, we’re moving into a new stage of the process and it’s up to me to step up to the plate.

’With the power and the aerodynamic efficiency, these cars are fascinating. After my first run, one of the mechanics filmed the expression on my face. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the big smile on my face spoke volumes about how much I had enjoyed driving the new car.

‘I’ve always thought that aerodynamics shouldn’t become too important, because rallying shouldn’t become like track racing. I think we have a good balance and these cars will be just as exciting to drive as to watch. But I think the human factor will become more important than it is currently. In my opinion, the 2017 WRCs must remain exclusive to the World Championship, like the F1 cars or the MotoGP bikes.

‘Every year, even if the regulations remain unchanged, we always go a little bit quicker. You can’t stop technology from moving on. This new generation will enable us to make a big step forward in terms of the safety of the cockpit and protection in the event of a side impact. We’re heading in the right direction.

‘As soon as we set off, I felt that I was driving a genuine rallying machine, a well-designed car. I have been involved in the development of several cars in my time; generally speaking, you spend more time waiting around than driving in the first few test sessions. But with this, I was able to rack up the miles and start to explore the set-up options. It was like a dream.’

Kris’s focus for 2016 is on the development of the new car, with only limited outings in the World Rally Championship in a DS 3 WRC alongside an extensive testing programme. We’ll bring you further updates as the new challenger ramps up its pace.