Kris Meeke is to make his debut in the FIA European Rallycross Championship at Lohéac next month after agreeing a deal with the Albatec Racing team.
Meeke will partner team principal Andy Scott at the wheel of a Peugeot 208 and has already had the chance to sample the 600bhp supercar during a test at the French circuit this week.
The 34-year-old is no stranger to Peugeot machinery, having won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title driving for the Peugeot UK team back in 2009, while he will make his return to the World Rally Championship with sister manufacturer Citroen
next month in Finland.
“I'm blown away, I don't think I've ever driven a supercar with this amount of horsepower, it's just incredible,” Meeke said following his test. “There are so many things to learn, the tyres are different to what I use in rally, they're so much softer to generate traction from a standing start but with not as much longitudinal grip as we have in rallies. And to have all that horsepower and try to manage it is just, well incredible.
“I have experience of the new 208 T16 rally car, and there are obviously similar comparisons, but widely different in the same respect. With over 2.5 times the power than I'm used to, 600bhp is the biggest factor. It's new to me of course, with so much to learn here, a new track, the conditions, the car, and the engineers, but if you give any driver 600bhp, a steering wheel and pedals they're going to jump at it.
“As much as we can test though I don't think anything can prepare you for the race, although I have some experience of that extra dimension of others around you. Naturally driving with Andy and the Albatec team ties in perfectly with my testing role with PSA Peugeot and Citröen, and racing in Lohéac gives me the perfect chance to put myself up against the best in the business in one of the best cars in the business.”
Team boss Scott said he was thrilled to have the Northern Irish racer on-board for the Lohéac event.
“We met Kris when he came to Finland helping Andrew Coley with the TV commentary and I was pondering what would be the destiny of the second car,” he said. “So we had some initial discussions with him and there was obviously a will and a determination by him to drive at some point.
“I'm privileged and honoured that a driver of his calibre and reputation has agreed to join us today, I'm sure his experience will help with the development of the car while naturally allowing him some crucial track time in preparation of his RallycrossRX debut with us in Lohéac.”
Meeke is the latest big name from other areas of motorsport to sample the Albactec Racing car, with former F1 racer Mika Salo having taken part in a test at the Porvoo venue back in June.
His outing at Lohéac will see Meeke go up against Petter Solberg
and Sebastien Loeb, both of whom are also entered.