Belfast Telegraph

Kris Meeke rues another costly error

By Sammy Hamill

Even two bonus points from the Power Stage couldn't raise a smile from Kris Meeke at the end of Rally Deutschland.

The extra points for second fastest time on the final stage just confirmed he was one of the four quickest drivers on the German round, but once again he let himself down with another costly mistake - his fourth in as many rallies - and dropped out of contention.

The Dungannon driver could, possibly should, have finished on the podium, spoiling what turned out to be a celebratory 1-2-3 for the all-conquering Volkswagen team, but he "did something stupid" on the first leg on Friday and paid a high price.

Those were his own words to describe his trip into a field on the sixth stage which led to his Citroen breaking a front suspension strut and a time loss of almost 10 minutes. Instead of duelling with Andreas Mikkelsen for third behind the other two VW Polos of winner Sebastien Ogier and runner-up Jari-Matti Latvala, Meeke fell back to 25th before recovering to an eventual 12th.

It meant more frustration for the Rally Argentina winner but even more for his Citroen team who, with Mads Ostberg finishing an uncompetitive seventh, slipped to third in the manufacturers' championship behind relative newcomers Hyundai who had Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville in fourth and fifth places.

Losing out to VW is one thing but to be beaten by Hyundai in the manufacturers's race will be unacceptable to the Citroen hierarchy and ratchets up the pressure still further on Meeke ahead of the next round in Australia.

Team boss Yves Matton has stated publicly that Meeke and Ostberg's places for next season are under threat and being widely acknowledged as the only driver to challenge the VW supremacy may not be enough to save the Ulsterman. Citroen need points and he isn't delivering them.

They will, however, have taken heart from the performance of rising French star Stephane Lefebrve who made the top 10 on his debut, perhaps pointing the way to a place in the team next season.

There was disappointment not just for Meeke but for Circuit of Ireland winner Craig Breen and former British junior champion Marty McCormack.

Breen had been in 14th overall and second behind the factory R5 Skoda of Jan Kopecky when his Peugeot picked up a puncture early in the marathon Panzerplatte stage on Saturday. He had little choice but to stop and change the wheel, dropping over three minutes and falling back to 20th before eventually finishing 18th.

McCormack was also going well in his older S2000 Skoda, seventh in WRC2 and on the edge of the top 20 when he was forced to retire on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph


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