Meeke fastest at Monte shakedown
Briton masters the mud in the Monte prelude
The Welshman, who lost his World Rally Car seat with the M-Sport team at the end of last season, debuts the British's squad new-specification Ford Fiesta R5 on the mountain roads of the French Alps and will be many people's choice to start the 2016 campaign with a win.
Evans, who finished second overall on the asphalt Tour de Corse - Rallye de France last year, was fastest of the WRC 2 contenders in Wednesday afternoon's 3.35km shakedown test on the edge of Gap.
He was 5.2sec faster than French asphalt expert Julien Maurin, who is driving a Skoda Fabia R5 for the first time, with Quentin Gilbert third quickest in Citroën's DS 3 R5. Gilbert is stepping up to WRC 2 after winning both the Junior WRC and WRC 3 titles last season.
A strong 14-car entry will line up for the Monaco start tomorrow night and also expected to feature near the top of the leaderboard are Armin Kremer (Fabia R5), Quentin Giordano (DS3 R5) and Simone Tempestini (Fiesta R5).
Jose Suarez begins his prize campaign with the Peugeot Rally Academy in a 208 after winning the French manufacturers' Volant series in 2015, while Yoann Bonato begins his debut WRC 2 season in a DS3 R5 after a successful French Championship campaign last year.