(WRC.com, 13/8/2013) CITROEN has dropped Dani Sordo from its works team driver line-up for Coates Hire Rally Australia and has given the seat to Northern Irishman Kris Meeke.
The decision comes a week after Meeke made a guest appearance at Rally Finland driving in place of Khalid Al Qassimi at the Abu Dhabi Citroen team.
Meeke, 34, put in a much-praised performance in Finland on his first outing in the Citroen DS3 WRC, even though a high-speed multiple roll on the penultimate stage meant he didn’t complete the event.
Before his crash, Meeke was lying fifth, more than three minutes in front of a beleaguered Sordo, who was again unable to find his confidence in the DS3.
“We have to acknowledge that we have had better seasons,” conceded Yves Matton, managing director of Citroën Racing.
“It is difficult to take decisions like this, but sometimes you have to change something to re-energise the team and get back to winning ways. This decision, which was made with Dani, will allow us to work on our difficulties and move in the right direction.
“Kris showed what he could do in Finland with an excellent performance and high motivation levels. So we instinctively turned to him to take over in Australia.”
Meeke, who is co-driven by Chris Patterson, said he was delighted that Citroën had put its faith in them again. He has not driven regularly in the WRC since being a member of the MINI team in 2011.
“For us, this is an incredible opportunity to take part in the rally as part of Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jarmo [Lehtinen], and we are determined to give of our best,” Meeke said.
In a statement, Citroen said Sordo ‘has agreed with Citroën Racing that he will sit out the next round in order to try and take a step back and find some form on the surface away from pressure.’
Coates Hire Rally Australia is the 10th round of this year’s championship and takes place on 12-15 September on the New South Wales Coffs Coast.