Belfast Telegraph

Stephane Lefebvre injury blow may open the door to Kris Meeke's Rally GB bid

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke may have been enjoying a break away in Las Vegas along with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Mike Tyson but he was quick to send "get well soon" messages to his Citroen team-mates Stephane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau who were hospitalised after crashing during Rally Germany at the weekend.

Meeke flew out with his brother Barry to see Conor "The Notorious" McGregor win his re-match with Nate Diaz at UFC 202, engaging in a bit of sky diving, even arm-wrestling with former World heavyweight champion Tyson, as well as celebrating backstage with McGregor.

But the Dungannon driver still kept up to date with what was happening in Germany and was shocked to hear of Lefebvre's heavy accident which will almost certainly have implications for Citroen's plans for the rest of the season.

Co-driver Moreau was the more seriously injured, suffering a broken leg, broken foot and cracked vertebrae. And, although both he and Lefebvre have tweeted they plan to be "back soon" they remain in hospital in Trier.

Meeke has only contested four rounds of the World championship this season - he has led all of them and won in Portugal and Finland - while he concentrates on the development of Citroen's new C3 car for 2017. He was due to return for Rally China next week but it has been cancelled due to the recent flooding which damaged many of the roads to be used on the event.

There is now a gap until the French round in Corsica at the end of September, followed a fortnight later by Spain, and then Rally GB in late October. Citroen have been rotating their drivers from event to event and, although they not have officially stated who will drive in any of these rallies, Lefebvre tweeted he will be "disappointed to miss Corsica" due to his and Moreau's injuries.

It is thought he was due to partner Meeke but Circuit of Ireland winner Craig Breen, who finished third behind Meeke in Finland, may now be drafted in.

Citroen are not expected to enter Rally Spain but have indicated there will be three cars for Rally GB, provisionally to be driven by Lefebvre, Breen and Khalid Al Qassimi.

But Meeke has told the team he wants to be there, not just because it is essentially his home round of the series, but also he feels the gap between Corsica and the opening round of 2017 in Monte Carlo in January is too long to be away from competitive action.

"I'm not saying I want to go to GB to do something special, or to try to win it, but I want is to keep the edge. It is a long gap between Corsica in September and Monte Carlo in January and although I have testing scheduled it is not the same as competition," he said.

The injuries to Lefebvre and Moreau may solve team boss Yves Matton's problem and open the door for Meeke to take part. He finished second behind World champion Sebastien Ogier last season.

Meanwhile, Jon Armstrong finished third in the DMACK Trophy series in Germany despite a spin and then a puncture delayed his F2 Ford Fiesta. Victory went to former Rally NI winner Osian Pryce with Max Vatanen second and the young Kesh driver, who had led initially, fighting back to third with several fastest stage times.

Belfast Telegraph


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