Citroen lived through an unbelievably difficult Rally Argentina with a couple of really heavy crashes. In SS4 (Santa Rosa – San Agustin) Kris Meeke was caught out by a compression. The car was launched into the air, landing on a bank and rolling off the road. He managed to finish the stage, losing several minutes in the process. Craig Breen also completed this stage at a crawl. On the same compression as his team-mate, the Irishman landed heavily and was unable to avoid the underbody hitting an exposed bedrock. The gearbox was damaged by the impact and became stuck in fifth gear.
Both cars were forced to retire for the day on the road section. The damage suffered was too substantial to allow them to complete the loop. In an attempt to ensure their crews could rejoin the race under Rally2 rules, Citroen Racing’s mechanics and engineers undertook some very extensive mechanical repairs.
Unfortunately the mechanics spotted an oil leak on Craig Breen’s car in service even before he went out of parc ferme. The Irishman did not take part in the second leg, in order to avoid damaging the engine.
After checking that his car was working properly on the opening Saturday speed test, Kris Meeke was back on the pace again. He even grabbed two stage wins (SS11 and SS12) before the mid-leg service. Unfortunately, the second pass on the stages ended with the Northern Irishman going off the road again. After hitting a bank at high speed on SS14, the Citroen rolled an incredible 14 times! This time, Kris’ rally was well and truly over.
— Citroën Racing (@CitroenRacing) 30 April 2017
Yves Matton: “Citroen will keep working hard and not give up, because we are convinced that our efforts will eventually start paying off”
“We have the capacity to achieve our target, i.e. win the rally”, commented Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal. “Kris recorded a series of fastest and second fastest times, which illustrates that the C3 WRC has the necessary pace. Similarly, Craig’s times on Sunday’s leg – right in the middle of the fight for the overall win – provide further confirmation of this. And yet, we haven’t managed to turn that pace into a good result here. Since the start of the season, we’ve paid a very heavy price each time there have been obstacles in our path. We are going to keep working hard and not give up, because we are convinced that our efforts will eventually start paying off. Our approach will remain aggressive. Rather than aiming for a result in the World Championship, we want to win rallies and that means a certain level of risk-taking.”
Among the few pleasing aspects of the weekend, the great job done by the mechanics came top of the list
The repairs done to Meeke’s C3 WRC after his off on Friday will go down as one of the great feats of the Red Army’s technical team.
“Our mechanics have undoubtedly formed the best rally team for the last fifteen years”, emphasised Yves Matton. “They worked tirelessly to repair the car, which was obviously back in perfect condition since Kris scored two stage wins on Saturday. So it’s sad that their commitment and hard work weren’t more generously rewarded. It’s always a shame to lose a car that has restarted under Rally2 rules to another off.”
— Citroën Racing (@CitroenRacing) 2 May 2017
— Citroën Racing (@CitroenRacing) 4 May 2017