Peter van Merksteijn Jr said he was happy with his debut run in the new Citroen DS3 WRC in Portugal despite finishing the event outside the top 20.
The Dutch driver had been due to start the season in Sweden but delayed his programme in order to allow Petter Solberg to take delivery of his car first, with van Merksteijn's first outing being put back to the third event of the season.
Having tested the car prior to the event, van Merksteijn's aim for the Portuguese round was to maximise his time behind the wheel, although an engine issue after hitting a watersplash on the second day meant he was forced to use Superally in order to complete the event.
He eventually finished down in 22nd place as a result but said he was confident that there is plenty more speed to come once he gets used to his new surroundings.
“I can draw a very positive conclusion from my first experience with the Citroen DS3 WRC even though I think I was a bit unlucky,” he said. “We had a small problem on the second day that deprived us of important kilometres as we were learning the car. The objective of this rally was to get to know the car. I'm sure I can go quicker, but that will just come with experience.”
Head of Citroen Racing Technologies Benoit Nogier added that he was impressed with van Merksteijn's debut in the new DS3 given his lack of time behind the wheel compared to his rivals.
“We had a technical problem with Peter van Merksteijn Jr's car, which cost him valuable kilometres,” he said. “He showed a very good frame of mind and is already at the level of the other drivers who are learning their cars. We'll keep making steady progress with him, step by step, as the season goes on.”