Difficult start of WRC Rally Sardegna for Van Merksteijn Motorsport
The opening day of the WRC Rally d’Italia Sardagna has not ended as Van Merksteijn Motorsport had expected. Peter van Merksteijn jr. experienced a very difficult morning but got better in his rhythm during the afternoon. Peter sr. had to park his Citroën DS3 WRC at the side of the stage late in the morning and might be forced to retire with a damaged Citroën.
For Peter van Merksteijn jr. the WRC rally on the island of Sardinia did not start as he had hoped for. During the second run of the shakedown prior to the start of the rally on Thursday he suffered from problems with his steering system and had as a result insufficient time in the car to find a good set-up. The consequences of this became apparent during the opening two stages of the today as the suspension of the DS3 WRC was too hard and Peter jr. could not compete properly. Having rectified this on the liaison towards the third stage things improve considerably for him.
After only a limited service of 15 minutes the Citroën DS3 WRC went on its way again for a second passing of the four special stages ran in the morning. The afternoon was a complete battlefield for the competitors with stranded rally cars littered along the roads. Peter jr. and his co-driver Eddy Chevaillier drove cautiously with the emphasis on clocking as many kilometers as possible and returning the car undamaged back to Olbia. “This is the most difficult rally I have even driven in my life. The stages are very tricky so I took it a bit easy during this first day” according to Peter jr.
After being absent from the World Rally Championship for almost one and a half year, Peter van Merksteijn sr. sat in the driver seat of the Citroën for his first timed kilometers with this new car. On the opening two stages it was for the experienced Dutch driver a matter of getting familiar with this new generation World Rally Car to drive fast and he had to observe that he was losing time to his son who has driven the same car in two previous rounds of the WRC.
Towards the finish of the third stage in which he could match the pace already a lot better, the Rally Sardegna came to an early finish. After Peter sr. and his co-driver Erwin Mombaerts ended up besides the road it looked as if they would not be able to finish the first day. The damage to the car seemed limited and a restart in Superally on Saturday morning was still an option. That possibility vanished when one of the next competitors crashed into the stranded DS3 WRC and damaged the car severely. The technicians will survey the state of the car tonight in the service park but the expectation is that the WRC Rally Sardegna is over for Peter van Merksteijn sr.
-source: Van Merksteijn Motorsport