PHOTO: Kris Meeke (left) and Stéphane Lefebvre to contest Rallye Monte-Carlo (Citroen Racing pic)
KRIS Meeke will drive for the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team in a Citroen DS 3 WRC at Rallye Monte-Carlo next month,
The Northern Irishman earlier this week was confirmed in a new three-year deal with Citroen Racing, but only in a testing role for the factory in 2016 while contesting selected rounds for an unofficial team now revealed to be Khalid Al-Qassimi’s Abu Dhabi Total Racing.
For the 2016 season opener on 21-24 January, Meeke will be paired with long-term co-driver Paul Nagle, while Citroen up-and-comer Stéphane Lefebvre with new co-driver Gabin Moreau will drive a second DS 3. Their cars will be prepared by Citroen’s customer racing division PH Sport.
The Abu Dhabi Total WRT said the Monte-Carlo entry would allow the drivers to continue developing their experience while Citroen Racing sits out 2016 in order to develop its contender for the new 2017 technical specifications – with the assistance of Meeke.
Abu Dhabi Total WRT said it would contest selected WRC rounds with drivers including Meeke, Lefebvre, Al-Qassimi and Craig Breen and up to three cars.
“After a successful three-year partnership with Citroen, we are pleased to maintain our presence in the WRC,” Khalid Al-Qassimi said.
“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 Citroën Racing.”
Meeke said being able to contest a certain number of rallies in 2016 was important when deciding about his future.
“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.”
Three cars will be entered at Rally Sweden on 11-14 February for Meeke, Lefebvre and Breen.