Kris Meeke says topping the shakedown ahead of Rallye Monte Carlo ahead of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship season opener 'means nothing' in terms of gauging his pace against his rivals.
The Abu Dhabi Racing WRT driver ended the 3.35km shakedown route quickest of all with a 2m 07.2s time, beating defending WRC champion Sebastien Ogier into second place.
Meeke's eye-catching performance hasn't changed his expectations ahead of the start of the Monte as he prepares to take part in selected rounds of the WRC with Abu Dhabi Racing after Citroen withdrew its factory entry for 2016. The French manufacturer is concentrating on producing a new challenger ahead of the 2017 regulations revamp.
“We got into the stage quite early. The stage was destroyed quite quickly, but the feeling was good,” Meeke said. “Shakedown means nothing, especially when the road is not so similar to the rally. As always with Monte Carlo, we have a long, long weekend and we have to be really accurate in every decision in and out of the car and try to make correct choices.
“It is a huge challenge, it's the Monte Carlo Rally. It never ceases to surprise. Over the last two years, we have faced everything: a very wet 2014 with a lot of black top on asphalt, then in 2015 we had some snow which meant we had to cross the tyres, but we learned a lot. This time will be no simpler.”
Meeke also reiterated his delight at securing his new three-year deal with Citroen which commences this month. The Northern Irish rally driver will act as Citroen's test driver in 2016 alongside competing at selected European WRC events with a PH Sport-prepared Citroen DS3.
“I'm quite happy to be honest. In this game, you want to secure your future,” he explained. “Mostly all of my career has been rally-by-rally and not knowing the future, so to finally say we have a bit more commitment is nice. It allows me to get involved in a new project from the beginning.
"For us, this is an interim season; we'll do the rallies with PH Sport, the important bit is the future, we have a new project in 2017.”