The Dutch driver was 15th overall prior to stage six, Ungersberg 2, when he went off after touching a patch of gravel by the side of the road. Although van Merksteijn Jr and navigator Erwin Mombaerts, from Belgium, had hoped to return on day two, checks revealed their car was beyond immediate repair.
“Rallye de France is not my rally of the season,” said van Merksteijn Jr, who started the event on a high after claiming his first WRC points in Germany back in August and following his victory on the Hellendoorn Rally, a national event in his homeland last month. “Beforehand I knew it would be a difficult rally but I did not expect this ending.”
He continued: “It is a real pity to retire so early in the rally and missing out on important kilometres 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.”