Citroen's Kris Meeke believes there is more to come from him following his inaugural podium finish on Rallye Monte Carlo and he has said on another weekend the result could have possibly been even better.
The Ulsterman finished third on Saturday on the 2014 WRC season opener to become the first Brit to stand on the rostrum since the late Colin McRae back in 2003 [see separate story - HERE
] and at the finish he added that he hadn't had one single 'big moment' throughout the three-days, even though the conditions were extremely tricky, to say the least.
“It's been my first asphalt rally in two and a half years. Okay it's maybe not asphalt but still my first rally in the DS3 on tarmac so I had to manage it and keep everything in check,” Meeke explained. “Seb [Ogier] drove an incredible rally and so did Bryan [Bouffier]. I saw a lot of drivers were having some hot moments pushing a lot, including Seb, but it was a drive of a champion to come back like he did. I did not have one big moment and there were no surprises throughout the rally. On another weekend you never know it could have been a better result. But I am so happy to get to the finish to build the confidence with the team and the car.”
Meeke had two guest runs with Citroen last season – showing great speed and potential, but ultimately not finishing - and he added that knowing this wasn't a one-off really helped him.
“It's really special for me to get my first proper opportunity with Citroen. To know I have a future is important and not that every stage and every rally is the only chance to prove what's possible,” he continued. “It's nice to prove that when I have an opportunity I can manage a rally, look to the future and see the bigger picture.
“This has been an incredibly difficult rally. Every stage was a surprise. There was just no consistency in the conditions and it came with a big sting in the tail that was Turini. That was special, however, [and] I enjoyed it. I'm really delighted to get the first podium with the first event in the team.”
So is this third place payback for Citroen's faith in him? “It's only [rally] number one of 13 events,” he warned, “but it's a nice way to start for sure. Motorsport is different; in football you are yourself, and in golf, but in motorsport you need a good car and good tools. To get the opportunity with Citroen, a team with so much knowledge and so much knowledge to help me is incredible and to be able to reward people who give you an opportunity is nice.”
Meanwhile, looking to the next event in Sweden, Meeke said it is likely to be a 'quiet' event for him.
“I have never driven a snow rally so Sweden's going to be an interesting experience for me. For sure I know it's impossible to do a good result the first time there so the plan is to be very quiet in Sweden and drive round to get the experience for next year,” he noted. “In fact I've never been to Mexico or Portugal either so I'll be quiet on the next three rallies. But the Championship is not the objective.
“I want to build my confidence and experience. I want to battle Seb in the future and get some rallies under my belt.”