Meeke and McCormack see their glory bid cut short
Trouble and disappointment for Ulster drivers Kris Meeke and Marty McCormack on the first full day of Rally Italia. Both were forced to retire from the rough, tough Sardinian event with mechanical issues.
Meeke was in sixth place when he reported the battery warning light was illuminated in his Citroen DS3 and the car was down on power at the end of the fourth stage. There was one more stage to complete before the midpoint service break but he never made it, the Citroen cutting out and stopping five kilometres short with suspected alternator failure.
McCormack, making his second World championship appearance for the Italian A-Style team, elected to retire after his R5 Ford Fiesta developed a driveshaft problem on stage three.
"We only had two-wheel-drive and with six more stages today it was decided to withdraw rather than risk further damage," said the former British junior champion.
He and Meeke were due to restart this morning under Rally 2 rules but with heavy penalties for failing to complete yesterday's leg. They were two of a number of drivers who fell foul of the rocky Sardinian roads.
Out, too went Juho Hanninen while the Ford Fiesta of Mikko Hirvonen caught fire and was totally destroyed.
Overnight Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala led from Meeke's Citroen team-mate Mads Ostberg.