Belfast Telegraph

Citroen could excel by pairing me with Meeke, says Mikkelsen

 

By Sammy Hamill

As Citroen made a cautious start in their build-up to Rally Poland without Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen suggested the French team could now be challenging for the World Championship manufacturers' title if he and the Ulsterman had been paired together from the start of the season.

"I'm very sad that Kris won't be part of the team in Poland," said former Volkswagen driver Mikkelsen. "And in a way I'm sad that it's me who is replacing him. There's no question it would have been a strong team to have Kris and I together this year.

"He knows the team and I would come with experience of the 2017 Polo. We could have challenged for the manufacturers' title."

With Meeke sitting out the Polish round after a series of crashes, Mikkelsen was only 11th fastest, more than three seconds off the pace set by Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, during the shakedown stage yesterday with Craig Breen 13th and Stephane Lefebvre 14th.

Prompted by the Norwegian, Citroen have implemented two homologation changes to their C3 WRC in a bid to tame its wayward behaviour. It will have a new rear differential rail and a modification to the torque split between front and rear axles - but only Mikkelsen's car will benefit from them in Poland.

Meeke, who won in Mexico and will be back in the team for Rally Finland at the end of July, is known to have been calling for these changes to be made for some weeks.

Meanwhile, Chris Smylie and the Northern Ireland-owned Norlin British Touring Car Championship team will be back home this weekend for a two-day automotive show being held at the former B&Q warehouse on Boucher Road, Belfast.

'Districts', which runs tomorrow and Sunday, features a range of classic, off-road and exotic vehicles and motorbikes including the Norlin Chevrolet Cruzes of Carrickfergus driver Smylie and his team-mate Dave Newsham.

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