Citroen disappointed by Meeke's Italy crash
Citroen has confirmed Kris Meeke’s retirement from Rally Italy following the Briton’s roll on the final stage of the Friday morning loop.
Meeke started SS5 with a small lead over Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon, but touched a bank with the right-rear of his car and rolled.
He made it through the stage, dropping more than seven minutes in the process.
Event scrutineers have observed damage to the Citroen C3 WRC’s roll cage, and will not allow the car to return to the stages for the weekend.
Only Andreas Mikkelsen remains in the running on Friday afternoon of Citroen's trio of drivers, after Craig Breen was sidelined by a damaged gearbox casing on SS3.
Citroen’s deputy team principal Marek Nawarecki told Motorsport.com: “It was a disappointing morning. We have two cars which are not in the race anymore.
"The positive thing from the first stages was the pace of Kris – this was good and he was leading provisionally. But after this mistake, we have no possibility for him to continue.
“It’s disappointing. It was important for Kris to finish the rally and to bring some manufacturer points – this was the target of this rally.”
The Northern Irishman’s accident is precisely not what he wanted following mistakes on the preceding rounds in Argentina and Portugal.
“It was fourth-gear corner four or five kilometres into the stage," explained Meeke."I slid wide, hit the bank and it spat me back into the road and over.
"What can I say? I’ve been trying so hard not to make any mistakes.”
While Meeke's rally is at an end, Breen is expected to return to the Alghero-based event tomorrow, with a new gearbox fitted to his car.
Nawarecki added: “For Craig it was bad luck. He hit a rock after a compression on the jump and the gearbox was damaged.”
Mikkelsen finds Citroen transition tough
Mikkelsen, who lies eighth and 53 seconds off leader Paddon, spent the morning getting to know the C3 WRC and admitted it was tougher than he had expected.
“This car has to be driven in quite a different way to the Polo,” he told Motorsport.com.
“I did one day of testing before here, but in the test you are going up and down the same piece of road – its’ only when you come here that you find out what the car does.
“I have always driven the car from the front and this one needs to be driven a little bit more from the rear. That’s taking me some time to get used to.”
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