Kris Meeke has been dropped by Citroën for the remainder of the season following his massive accident at Vodafone Rally de Portugal last weekend.
The Ulsterman and co-driver Paul Nagle will not start next month’s Rally Italia Sardegna (7 - 10 June) or any of the remaining WRC rounds due to ‘an excessively high number of crashes’, the French manufacturer announced late on Thursday afternoon.
Team principal Pierre Budar said the decision to axe Meeke was based on safety considerations.
“This wasn’t an easy decision to make because it effects a driver and a co-driver, but it is largely founded on safety issues which come under my preoccupations as team principal. We have consequently chosen to make this decision as a preventive measure,” he said.
A statement from Citroën Racing said: “Due to an excessively high number of crashes, some of which were particularly heavy and could have had serious consequences with regard to the crew’s safety, and given that the risks involved were unjustified by the sporting stakes at play, Citroën Racing WRT has decided to terminate the participation of Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle in the 2018 WRC.”
Craig Breen and Mads Østberg will drive C3 cars in Italy and Citroën said it would shortly confirm the team’s line-up for the remainder of the season.
Ironically Meeke posted on social media shortly before the announcement to say he was looking forward to the Italian gravel event.
“So Portugal’s over now, and we’re already looking forward to Sardinia in a couple of weeks,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Our starting position should help us again and we’ve a pre-event test coming up where I know the Citroën Racing team will be able to try a few more ideas on set-up, having learned more on the car last weekend.
“It’ll be good to put those changes and improvements into practice, and I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to give our season fresh momentum again as we head into summer.”