Markkula hurt his back during Rally Finland earlier this month. Volkswagen Motorsport withdrew the duo in Germany shortly before shakedown yesterday morning after a scan on Tuesday evening revealed he had fractured two vertebrae.
Although the team has not officially ruled the Finn out of Australia, Volkswagen’s Sven Smeets said the minimum recovery period for such an injury was eight weeks.
That would mean Markkula would miss Rally Australia and an appearance at Rallye de France-Alsace, which starts on 3 October, could also be doubtful.
Smeets said the injury occurred at a high-speed compression during the first pass of the Painaa test during Rally Finland’s final leg. The pain subsided after the rally but returned during Monday’s opening day of recce in Germany.
Markkula underwent an MRI scan at Bad Nauheim, near Frankfurt, on Tuesday evening. Dr Johannes Peil, who has treated seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher in the past, revealed the full extent of the injuries.