Kris Meeke has described his 2016 World Rally Championship as 'a new chapter' and says he's under much less pressure due to Abu Dhabi Total WRT's championship plans.
The Northern Irish rally driver starts his new three-year Citroen deal this month and will be taking on the European WRC rounds with Abu Dhabi Total WRT alongside his commitments with the factory Citroen squad to develop its 2017 challenger ahead of the regulations revamp.
As a result, Meeke and team-mate Stephane Lefebvre are effectively ruled out of challenging for the world titles assuming they will skip at least four events on the 14-round WRC calendar.
Meeke, who claimed his maiden WRC rostrum at Rallye Monte Carlo in 2014, feels he can go into this year's event with a lot more freedom but is still hungry for success.
“2016 is not just a new season, it's the start of a new chapter in my career. I am extremely pleased to be competing at the Rallye Monte-Carlo with the Abu Dhabi Total WRT,” Meeke said.
“Obviously, we are not in the same situation as the other WRC drivers. I don't feel like I'm under a great deal of pressure, mainly because we're not aiming for a particular result at the end of the season.
“At the Monte-Carlo, and at the other rallies, I'll be looking to do my very best and get as much experience as possible. Although there are a few new stages, the course seems to be pretty similar to 2015. The major imponderable is the weather. If the cold conditions persist, we should have a lot of snow and ice on the stages.”
Despite a truncated 2016 campaign, Meeke says he's still relishing the start of season buzz and getting back to racing in the Citroen DS3 WRC, with which he claimed his first WRC career win in Argentina last year on his way to fifth in the drivers' championship.
“It's a rally that I love because it sums up all the excitement of the start of a new season,” he explained. “But when you get to the service park and you have to make a tyre choice that will inevitably involve a compromise of some kind, the love can sometimes turn to hate! If we manage to have an error-free race and make the right calls, I think we shouldn't be too far away from the podium.”