Meeke replaces Dani Sordo in the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team after impressing at Rally Finland, and the Northern Irishman recognises that consistency rather than speed could unlock the door to a permanent factory drive.
“It’s important to show I can get the car to the finish this weekend,” said Meeke, who was fastest in qualifying this morning in his DS3 WRC. “I had an opportunity in Finland to show my pace on a rally which is probably the most difficult in the championship to show outright speed, and I managed to do it.
“I knew qualifying would be so important because of the road conditions. I had to try to get the best road position, but I don’t have the mindset now to go out and demonstrate my speed. I have done that this morning and I did that in Finland. It’s more important to show I can finish,” he said.
Meeke acknowledged this weekend could prove one of the most important of his life. “It seems to be every weekend like that at the moment!” he joked. “I didn’t have many weekends to do rallies in the last two years, so Finland was the biggest when it came along and now I have another opportunity in the factory team.
“The only thing I know about the future is that I am doing Rally Australia. I had my opportunity in Finland and I have nothing confirmed beyond Australia, so everything depends on my result here,” he added.
“There comes pressure with that, but I’ll not deny it’s where I want to be. I want to be part of a factory team and you have to take the pressure when it comes, but I’m quite relaxed,” he said.
Team boss Yves Matton emphasised the need for Meeke to score well as Citroen duels with Volkswagen for the manufacturers’ world title.
“In Finland we only tell him to drive like you feel, at your own speed, and try to be faster as the weekend progressed. But here he needs to score points, and that is a little bit different. He needs to be fast enough to bring back good points but also he needs to keep something in reserve to be at the finish,” he said.