Belfast Telegraph

Kris Meeke's boss blasts differing driver penalties in Rally Australia

By Sammy Hamill

Citroen motorsport director Yves Matton has criticised the "inconsistency" of the controversial penalty which robbed Kris Meeke of a potential podium finish in last weekend's Rally Australia.

The Dungannon driver was hit with a 61-second penalty for short-cutting a corner during the second leg of the World championship rally and dropped to fifth.

He recovered to finish fourth but Matton has questioned why a time penalty was imposed when Andreas Mikkelsen was fined for a similar but more blatant offence during Rally Poland.

Mikkelsen, who went on to finish third in Australia to complete the first Volkswagen clean sweep of the podium places, was reprimanded by stewards, fined €5,000 and warned he risked exclusion if he repeated the offence. But there was no time penalty.

Matton said: "I have no comment on Kris's penalty, other than to say that on similar facts the stewards' decisions are not consistent.

"There is nothing more we can do. I just hope if it happens again we have some more consistency with the decisions."

Without the penalty, Matton believes Meeke would have beaten the Norwegian and finished third behind World champion Sebastien Ogier and team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

He clawed back more than half of the 61-second deficit during the final leg and finished just 26 seconds behind Mikkelsen.

"I don't know if Andreas would have made the same tyre choice on Sunday morning if he was still fighting, that will stay as a question mark, but for sure Kris was able to secure third place," said Matton.

"If you take the penalty away, and you look at the times he was doing, I think it was possible for Kris to be third and something like just 30 or 35 seconds from the victory. And with the (lack of) experience he has, for sure it was a great performance."

Matton had earlier said he would make a decision on the make-up of the Abu Dhabi Citroen team following the German and Australia rounds of the series, both of which saw Meeke as the only driver to challenge the all-conquering Volkswagens.

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