Peter van Merksteijn jr. has to retire from WRC Rallye de France
Peter van Merksteijn jr. had to retire today with his Citroën DS3 WRC in the WRC Rallye de France. Together with his co-driver Erwin Mombaerts he went off on the slippery roads besides the track and damaged his car too badly to continue to fight for points in the World Rally Championship during the remaining two days of the rally.
Prior to the WRC Rallye de France there was no opportunity for the Van Merksteijn Motorsport team to test with the DS3 WRC under the conditions the drivers would face in the Alsace based event. As a result of entry in the WRC Rally Australia and the victorious Hellendoorn Rally, the only occasion there was for Peter jr. To work on the set-up of the car was during the shakedown on a parking area in Strasbourg. “The shakedown of this rally is absolutely not comparable to the stages that are included in this rally. Not an ideal preparation for such a difficult really.”
Peter van Merksteijn jr. and Erwin Mombaerts started the opening morning of the rally cautiously with the Citroën DS3 WRC. With a strong entry list the Van Merksteijn Motorsport driver used the first two stages of the rally to get into a good rhythm for the tough stages to come. The third stage of the morning, the 26 kilometer long stage Pays d’Ormont, was one of the favorite stages of Peter jr. in the event and he demonstrated that by setting a good time just outside of the top ten shooting up 6 places in the overall classification. After finishing the fourth stage the DS3 WRC returned to Strasbourg for service and some rest for the drivers.
After half an hour of precautionary maintenance by the Citroën mechanics, the car left the service again for the second running of the four previously covered stages. With the gained experience of the morning Peter jr. and Erwin were able to perform much better. Before Van Merksteijn jr. could start with his DS3 WRC on the longest stage of the rally he had to drive the stage Ungersberg once more. The split times during the stage promised another good performance until towards the end of the stage the DS3 WRC went off the road on the gravel that had been thrown on the road by previous drivers. With the sustained damage to the car it was no longer safe to continue driving and Peter and Erwin were forced to retire from the WRC Rallye de France.
“The WRC Rallye de France is not my rally of the season. Beforehand I knew it would be a difficult rally but I did not expect this ending” according to Peter van Merksteijn jr. “It is a real pity to retire so early in the rally and missing out on important kilometers of experience. For this rally we were not able to test and that is after all a very important part of the preparation for a new rally.”