The long-time leader of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship section of the event was forced out when an under-bonnet fire ignited in his PROTON Satria Neo S2000 following a suspected fuel leak.
Andersson had dominated the SWRC class since Wednesday’s opening day but stopped just short of the famous Col de Turini on the Moulinet-La Bollene Vesubie stage this evening.
PROTON team principal Chris Mellors said: “We have spoken to the crew, they’re both out and okay. They reported smelling fuel in the car and saw a fire as they were going up the hill. They put the fire out, but have been forced to retire. Obviously we don’t know the precise nature of the fire until we get the car back here.”
Andersson held a seven-minute lead going into stage 16 and was on course for overall world championship points in ninth overall. Craig Breen, in a Ford Fiesta S2000, now leads the category.
Mellors added: “As you can expect, the team are completely gutted. After Giandomenico [Basso] went out on the first stage, PG has driven the perfect rally and done precisely what we asked of him. He extended his lead to an incredible seven minutes, but it’s all over now. Unbelievable. We were so close to a top 10 and completely dominant SWRC win on our first time out with the car at this level. Now, we go away and come back stronger on the next one.”