Shock news as Citroen withdraw from rallying

Kris Meeke will not be driving for Citroen next season
Kris Meeke will not be driving for Citroen next season

Shock news for Kris Meeke and his many fans Citroen will not be taking part in the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship.

The surprise announcement comes just days after Meeke finished runner up in Wales Rally GB where along with his teammate Mads Ostberg they secured second overall in the Manufacturers Championship for Citroen.

However it is not the end of the line for Citroen at top level rallying, they will return for the 2017 season with a new car running under new regulations and in a season which will mark the return of Toyota to the world rallying stage.

There is no indication as regards drivers, will Citroen retain Meeke and Ostberg or will they release them.

The focus in 2016 will be to defend their World Touring Car crown with two drivers Jose Maria Lopez and Yvan Muller.

Clearly the promise of more powerful rally cars in 2017 has great appeal for Citroen and while they will be on the sidelines they will spend the year developing their new car.

Could it be that Meeke might stay on in the role of developing the car, he would seem to be the obvious choice. However the Dungannon driver is at his best in action on the rally stages of the world and this past season he proved to be the only driver who could take the fight to the all conquering Volkswagens.

For Meeke it is very much a case of wait and see and after all as he said at the end of Wales Rally GB, “I have a lot of gardening to catch up with.

Meanwhile the Motorsport Ireland Rallycross Championship will crown their 2015 champion on Sunday with four drivers all in with a chance of taking the title at Mondello Park.

Willie Coyne leads the points standings in his Opel Corsa heading to the deciding round but Coyne’s path to victory will be far from simple; he will need to navigate the heats and semi finals to qualify for the Super Final.

Once in the Super Final, all Coyne needs to do is finish the race but with more powerful cars on the grid around him, qualifying for the Super Final will be far from straight forward.

Derek Tohill, a former European Rallycross Champion, is finishing his season on a high in his new World Rallycross specification Ford Fiesta. In Tohill’s hands the car destroyed the opposition at round 7 a few weeks ago on its maiden outing and there is little doubt he will once again be the man to beat on Sunday.

He will only get to lift the title though, by winning the Super Final and hoping that Coyne does not qualify or finish. Pat Ryan is another in with a chance of clinching the championship. For Ryan to take the title he would require trouble to hit both Coyne and Tohill while he himself must finish strongly in the Super Final.

The final title contender is Donegal’s Geoffrey Dolan. The former rally driver has enjoyed his switch of codes and has proved to be very capable in his four wheel drive Opel Astra which was previously campaigned by Christopher Evans.

Dolan currently sits fourth in the championship standings but could end the day as champion if Coyne fails to make the Super Final and the Donegal man wins the final ahead of Tohill.