Kris Meeke says he expects to stay in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2010 rather than trying to break into the World Rally Championship - even if he wins the IRC title.
His Peugeot UK drive in this year's IRC has revitalised Meeke's stalled career, and he leads the standings going into this weekend's Rally Madeira. But although his 2009 results have generated renewed interest in the former Junior WRC frontrunner, Meeke sees no point in rushing for a WRC opportunity, especially with major rule changes on the horizon.
"I don't know about next year," said Meeke in an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT
. "The politics in the sport recently have been really difficult to read and to try and pick a conventional route is hard.
"But I'm in an incredible position. I'm driving for Peugeot and testing for Citroen, the two best teams in the world. I'm doing a thousand kilometres of testing one day and then competing in the IRC - a great international championship the next. Things are very good at the moment.
"Getting back into the World Rally Championship is about positioning yourself right. At the moment, you'd have to say there's probably not that much point in going back for one final year under the current regulations of WRCs; IRC is the way to go for next year and we'll see how things develop, but of course I want to get back to WRC. I'd be lying if I said I didn't and lying if I didn't say I want to be world champion."
He has not yet negotiated a new deal with Peugeot for 2010 but expects to start talks soon.
"I hope to sit down with the powers that be and see which is the best direction for me," said Meeke. "For now, certainly IRC is the best place to be - so why change that?"
The Northern Irishman added that he had no concerns about holding off on a WRC return even though he was now 30 years old.
"It's nothing but a number," said Meeke. "Marcus Gronholm didn't win a rally until he was 32 or something like that. Sebastien Loeb is also one of the older drivers; I've got a hell of a lot of years ahead of me yet.
"I only started in the sport when I was 21, which is four years later than a lot of others. I still feel 22 or 23 physically."