Citroen Racing is asking Kris Meeke to “take a step back” after a string of disappointing results, instead going with Andreas Mikkelsen for Rally Poland after a season-best eighth in the Rally Italia Sedegna. The team’s lineup will feature Craig Breen/Scott Martin, Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger.
“After a series of disappointing results, we have asked Kris Meeke to take a step back for this next rally,” said Yves Matton, Citroën Racing team principal. “Kris accepted that this would be in the best interests of the team and we’d like to thank him for his understanding. This break will give him the chance to recharge his batteries and release some of the pressure before preparing for Rally Finland. He won in Finland last year after producing a perfect performance, so we hope he’ll come back stronger.”
Despite winning in Mexico – which was almost derailed when he crashed into a spectator car park near the finish – Meeke has had a string of disappointing results, including this weekend’s roll after his right rear clipped a bank and damaged the roll cage enough to force retirement. He rolled the car in Argentina, retired from the lead in France with mechanical issues and was forced out of Monte Carlo after sustaining damage. Meeke sits 10th in the standings with a mere 27 points, 114 behind leader Sebastien Ogier.
Prior to the Portugal rally in May, Meeke admitted that the season was not going as planned.
“It has been a really difficult start to the year. We have had lots of technical issues and I have made a few mistakes so to combine that all together, it has been difficult.”
Matton said that the team was looking forward to working with Mikkelsen, describing the Italian rally as “more like a test session” that a race.
“A second rally will give him the chance to use the things he has already learned to get closer to the leading guys,” Matton said. “Moreover, he is particularly fond of Rally Poland since he won the event last year.
“We also remain committed to supporting our young drivers with Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre, who will both be competing at the next round. They both took part in the 2016 Rally Poland, and recorded decent performances. They will therefore have a good opportunity to show what they can do. Having said that, their main target will remain to get to the finish without making any mistakes.”
The team will spend four days testing in Poland, with Meeke and Paul Nagle helping in a support role.