Rally boss Jost Capito is slated as bad loser over blast at Kris Meeke
Jost Capito, boss of the World Rally Championship-winning Volkswagen team, has been accused of "sour grapes" and of being "a bad loser" after an astonishing attack on Rally Finland winner Kris Meeke.
Capito said the Ulsterman would have been "a complete idiot" if he hadn't won in Finland having previously claimed Meeke's victory in Portugal earlier in the season "devalued the championship".
The row centres on the running order for drivers on gravel rounds, the rules dictating that the World Championship leader goes first on the road for the first two days. It means that the early runners, like VW's champion Sebastien Ogier, effectively sweep away the loose top surface, providing better grip and traction for later cars.
Because Meeke is not officially contesting the championship this year while Citroen concentrate on developing their new car for 2017 he has been starting in eighth place.
This has upset Ogier, who has not won since Sweden in February, and has sparked the Capito outburst. He also claimed before the Rally Finland start that Meeke was certain to win even though no British driver had ever been successful there.
Afterwards he told Autosport magazine: "Kris can't be happy with this win. If it's predictable [conditions] and he doesn't do a major mistake, what is the value of this win?
"This is why he was p***** off that I said there was no chance for anybody else to win. It devalues it - it does, it's a fact. Kris could only lose in Finland. If he didn't win, if he finished second, he would be a complete idiot," said Capito, who shortly departs the VW team to join McLaren in Formula One.
Bizarrely, Capito is known to be a Meeke admirer and has said he would have him in his team if he could. But his latest comments triggered a fierce reaction on social media with rally fans all around the world lambasting him as a bad loser, some pointing out that Meeke also led Ogier in Monte Carlo and Sweden where road positions are not so important.
They also said Ogier and his VW team-mates, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, had been unable to reel in Meeke when the same stages were repeated and the roads had been cleaned.
Others claimed it was "sour grapes" from a man used to his team totally dominating the championship - they only lost one rally last season when they were beaten, ironically, by Meeke in Argentina.
But Capito's outburst is being seen in the context of a meeting of the World Championship Commission at the end of the month when possible alterations to the running order for 2017 will be discussed. He is thought to be ramping up the pressure on them to make changes.
It was also, perhaps, triggered by the fact that Meeke and Citroen have been stealing positive headlines at a time when VW are still struggling in the wake of their emissions scandal.
Whatever the reason, the German, who congratulated Meeke at the end of Rally Finland along with Ogier and Latvala, has brought the wrath of rallying down on his head. "Go to McLaren and good riddance" tweeted one.
Meeke is currently on holiday with his family in Andorra but tweeted a pithy response - the famous picture of the late Steve McQueen giving a 'two-fingers' salute at the end of his Le Mans film. After his Portugal win back in May he said he would be happy to be first on the road because it would mean he was leading the World Championship.
Maybe next year ...