Kris Meeke’s season to forget has suffered another setback with confirmation that Citroen officials plan to drop the driver from the next World Rally Championship round.
The Dungannon favourite has victory in Mexico as his sole success this season and Friday’s meeting in Italy ended with Meeke crashing out of the Rally Sardegna from a leading position.
Meeke sits 10th on the World Rally Championship leaderboard after seven events in a miserable campaign for the driver and team.
Citroen have now reported a decision to axe Meeke for the Rally Poland round set to start on June 29. Team Principal Yves Matton has stated Meeke agreed to step down for the Poland test.
“After a series of disappointing results, we have asked Kris Meeke to take a step back for this next rally,” stated Matton. “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.”
The 37-year-old from Northern Ireland will be replaced by Andreas Mikkelsen, who came home eighth in a C3 on his debut with the Citroen team at the Rally Sardegna.
“This first experience was more like a test session than a proper competitive outing,” said Matton. “A second rally will give him the chance to use the things he has already learned to get closer to the leading guys.
“Moreover, he is particularly fond of Rally Poland since he won the event last year.”
Meeke cut a frustrated figure in Italy last week when forced to retire after damaging his car’s roll cage at a point when he held overall control at the halfway stage by 0.8 seconds.
“The road was rough and I touched the right rear on a bank and that spat the car over on to its roof,” he told the WRC website. “Everything felt good, I wasn’t focused on a target, just settling.
“It’s not good enough at the moment.”
Meeke’s season started with a crash in Monte Carlo and his problems continued across the schedule as appearances in Sweden, Corsica, Argentina and Portugal were also disrupted by incidents that cost him points.
Forthcoming rounds in Finland, Germany, Spain, Wales and Australia complete the championship calendar before November.
Meeke will be hoping the second half of the World Rally Championship can provide enhanced returns following such a disastrous run.