Belfast Telegraph

Meeke back in the Citroen driving seat for Finland


By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke will be back to lead the Citroen team in Rally Finland but there is no sign in the provisional entry list of Andreas Mikkelsen, who controversially replaces the Ulsterman in this weekend's World Championship round in Poland.

Meeke will be joined in Finland by Craig Breen but there is no place for the regular third member of the team, Stephane Lefebvre, as Citroen chop and change again and include Khalid al Qassimi and his Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson.

Despite winning in Mexico, Meeke has been asked to sit out Rally Poland after a series of accidents in the wayward C3 in recent rounds in Argentina, Portugal and Sardinia. Citroen decided he needed time out to "re-charge his batteries", a decision which has been roundly criticised in many quarters across the World Championship, although Meeke has made no comment.

But he was always expected to return for Finland, where he won in sensational style last year driving Citroen's older generation DS3. Breen scored his best WRC result in third place.

However, the decision to leave out Mikkelsen is considered strange.

As Meeke, Breen and Lefebvre all struggled to tame the unpredictable C3, former Volkswagen driver Mikkelsen was brought in for Sardinia to try to highlight the issues with the car. He finished in a steady eighth place while Meeke and Breen both experienced more problems.

Now the Norwegian leads the team in Poland, backed up by Breen and Lefebvre, and he will drive an updated version of the C3, Citroen using two of their mid-season 'joker' homologation cards to make changes to the differentials - changes Meeke had already been calling for.

Team boss Yves Matton explained: "Our car is unquestionably fast, but the window in which it works efficiently was proving too narrow. We have therefore begun making some major changes to our organisation, our methods and our principles.

"The first of these was the arrival of Andreas Mikkelsen, who encouraged us to explore some new ideas. After his first proper test session in the C3 WRC, we have introduced some upgrades that supplement the work done over the last few months.

"With a more versatile car, our drivers will be able to aim for the kind of results that match Citroen's high expectations."

But because of the tight time frame to source the components, only Mikkelsen's car will have the benefit of the modifications this weekend.

Citroen have not commented on the decision to leave him out of their line-up for Rally Finland, which takes place at the end of July.

Belfast Telegraph


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