Citroen's Kris Meeke will compete at the wheel of an Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team DS 3 WRC car on Rallye Monte Carlo, it has been confirmed.
Meeke, who signed a new three-year deal with Citroen this week
, will take up a development role in 2016 with the manufacturer after it withdrew its works entry into the championship. However, he will still take part in “several rounds” in the coming year, with the Abu Dhabi Total WRT poised to take in an as yet-to-be announced number of WRC rallies based in Europe.
The programme of the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team will act as a “transitional stage” before Citroen Racing returns as a works team in 2017.
Prepared by the PH Sport team, the DS 3 WRCs will be entrusted to various drivers next year, including, in addition to Meeke, Stephane Lefebvre, Craig Breen and Khalid Al Qassimi.
“Between one and three cars may be entered at each of the rounds chosen, depending on the event and the opportunities that arise,” read a statement to the media, with Lefebvre joining Meeke on the Monte.
“After a successful three-year partnership with Citroen, we are pleased to maintain our presence in the WRC,” explained Khalid Al-Qassimi, chairman of Abu Dhabi Racing. “It's a programme that has been approved by Citroen Racing and which benefits from the expertise of PH Sport. As lead driver, Kris Meeke will contest several rounds, whilst prioritising his development work with Citroen Racing.
“We will also be aiming to provide opportunities for talented young drivers from the PSA Peugeot Citroen group. Supported by the expertise of the team, they will be able to add to their experience and show what they can do.”
“Being able to contest a certain number of rallies in 2016 was important when deciding about my future,” reiterated Meeke. “I would therefore like to thank Abu Dhabi, Total and all the partners who have made it possible for us compete in very good conditions at these events. This programme will enable me to keep my hand in as regards racing and continue to learn about the WRC events.
“From that point of view, it seemed essential to compete at Monte-Carlo. It is such an unpredictable rally, where experience counts more than anywhere else. I can't wait to get back into the car for pre-event testing to prepare for this first race.”
Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT has also confirmed Meeke will compete in Sweden, alongside Al-Qassimi and Breen.
The programme for the remainder of 2016 has yet to be announced.