Meeke angry at Citroen decision to stand Breen down for Loeb
Kris Meeke has criticised his Citroen team for leaving Craig Breen out of three rounds of this year's World Rally Championship to make way for the part-time comeback of Sebastien Loeb.
The Ulsterman, who won in Mexico and Spain last season, says he welcomes the return of the nine-times World champion, but is unhappy it has to be at the expense of Breen, the team's most consistent driver in a troubled 2017 season.
Loeb returns to drive the factory C3 WRC in Mexico, Corsica and Spain, while two-time Circuit of Ireland winner Breen will tackle the remaining 10 rallies.
"I'm really pleased Sebastien is coming back but, dare I say it, he's not exactly a current driver having been away from the sport full time for five years," Meeke said. "He's still a nine-time champion and there's no better exponent of our sport.
"He's a very, very high-calibre driver and it would have been fantastic to see him back full-time in the team.
"That said, one thing I don't think is correct is taking Craig out of the car for those three rallies. OK, this isn't my decision, but for me, Craig has done enough last year and he absolutely deserves the second seat and a full-time drive this year.
"I've been there enough in the years gone by to know how much a driver benefits from being in the car for the complete season, and I think that's what we should have done. It's not really right that the guy who's building the experience has to stand aside.
"Like I said, that's not my decision. I can only focus on what I'm doing. I'm pleased with the testing we've done and with the way the car's looking. We've made some improvements and we've got more to come.
"We'll be aiming to score heavily at Monte Carlo and in Sweden in order to get off to a good start in this second campaign."
Breen, who joined Meeke for a further pre-Monte test session in the south of France this week, has avoided commenting on the Citroen decision other than to say: "I'm delighted to stay with the team for another year. I had a lot of things to learn in my first full year in the WRC, but I managed to be consistent.
"Now I'm going to do everything I can to get my first win."