Citroen Racing announced yesterday evening that 38-year old Ulsterman, Kris Meeke, will not compete for their team in the WRC again this year.
It’s a move which threatens the continued professional rally driving career of the oldest regular driver in the series.
This follows his crash in last week’s Rally of Portugal which the team consider to be the latest example of a series of needless driving errors and lacklustre performances on other recent events.
Apart from a troubled season driving for the WRC Mini John Cooper Works team, Meeke has driven for the PSA Group’s Peugeot and Citroen rally teams since the start of 2009, the year he became IRC champion.
Happy times for Kris Meeke on the podium at Rally Finland.
Since rallying exclusively for Citroen during 2013 he has won five world championship rallies, the last being Cataluna Rally in 2017.
Son of competition car preparation specialist, Sydney Meeke, Kris entered the sport by winning a find-a-driver competition run by Peugeot UK.
He enjoyed a special position in Citroen Racing, being engaged not only as a rally driver, but also for testing and development work, working in the last two years on the inconsistent C3 WRC car.
He had strong allies in his work, including that of the Citroen Racing team patron Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, the British specialist rally media, and earlier by personal help from Colin McRae.
Meeke jumps his Citroen C3 WRC during shakedown at Rally Australia in 2017. Photo: Peter Whitten
In 2018 he was the only current rally driver in Citroen Racing to be offered a full season contract, which has now been broken, citing safety concerns.
Although Citroen had traditionally had their unusual policies for driver engagement, the mid-season release of Meeke was not unprecedented in the sport - witness the decision not to continue to engage Francois Duval after he won the 2005 Rally Australia for them.
This year they sidelined drivers like Craig Breen and Mats Ostberg in order to give Sebastien Loeb more air time.
For the present, we wait to learn Kris Meeke’s immediate plans in or out of the PSA empire.
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