After the shock retirement of Jari-Matti Latvala on SS11, the twelfth special stage of the 2016 Rallye Monte-Carlo has claimed its second podium prospect, British driver Kris Meeke. The Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team driver was in a strong second place on the season opening rally, 26.8 seconds behind the sole remaining Volkswagen Motorsport VW Polo R WRC.
A slow SS11 announced a problem with the Citroen DS3 WRC and Meeke declined to speak to the media at the end of the stage. He inspected the front end of the car before jumping back in and heading off to the tire change area set up at a nearby airfield ahead of the Sisteron stage of the rally. The car didn’t seem to have any issues and there was no visible damage.
News came through while the WRC3 cars were still completing SS12 that the leading Citroen had retired. It has since been confirmed that a gearbox failure has sidelined the #7 car. There is no Rally2 on Sunday, the final day of the rally.
Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle‘s retirement from the event promotes the Volkswagen Motorsport II car of Andreas Mikkelsen to second place on the rally and all but assures defending champion Sebastien Ogier rally victory. Hyundai Motorsport inherit the final podium position with Thierry Neuville and the New Generation i20 WRC.
Stephane Lefeßvre continues to run in his Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen, claiming fifth place with his team mates demise. The retirement also returns Hayden Paddon‘s 2015 specification Hyundai i20 WRC to the points. The Hyundai Motorsport N entered machine resumed the rally under Rally2 regulations and sits in 38th overall but now 10th in class.
One stage remains on the penultimate day of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the 36.60km of Sisteron – Thoard and Ogier has a 2:17.1 advantage his nearest rival.