Citroen's Kris Meeke says he is looking forward to getting back into action on Rally de Portugal this week, although he concedes his first challenge will be to “get back into the swing of things”.
Meeke last competed in Sweden, but did do the recce for the subsequent overseas events in Mexico and Argentina.
His main focus, however, has been the development of Citroen's 2017 World Rally car and in total he has completed seven days of testing with the new more powerful machine.
“I'm pleased to be back in a competitive environment,” said Meeke, who will be running with the Abu Dhabi Total WRT in Portugal, along with Stephane Lefebvre and Khalid Al Qassimi. “I was starting to miss it!
“I really like Rally de Portugal too. Last year, we all had to get to grips with the new course, with some very enjoyable roads. I was challenging for the lead for a good part of the race, before finishing fourth overall.
“I also remember the enthusiasm and passion of the fans. The people of Northern Portugal love motorsport and especially rallying. You very quickly understand that this place is part of WRC folklore. The organisers did an incredible job in keeping the passion of the fans in check and the safety conditions were excellent.
“This year, the first challenge for me will be to get back into the swing of things with the car. The test session planned should help me in that respect.”
Asked about his targets for the event, he replied: “Obviously I hope to be fighting at the front, but you have to be realistic. We still have a good car, but there are no more upgrades, whereas our rivals are still working hard to improve,” he continued.
“I'll be aiming to have an error-free rally and we'll see where that puts us in the final standings. I know my starting position should help me. That's just the way the regulations work, but it shouldn't really bother anyone given that I'm not fighting for the championship this year.”