Craig Breen has been dropped by Citroen for Rally Spain, though Kris Meeke remains in their line-up despite a rally-ending crash in the opening stage of last month’s Rally Deutschland.
Citroen has rotated their driver lineup multiple times in recent events, and until now Breen had been spared the axe, while Meeke was stood down for Rally Poland.
The previous set of changes at the team had been caused by the temporary signing of Volkswagen refugee Andreas Mikkelsen, though with the Norwegian now headed to Hyundai for the rest of the season, the situation appeared to have momentarily calmed.
However, shortly after Hyundai’s announcement, Citroen announced only three entries for the upcoming event in Spain, despite part-time driver and team financier Khalid Al Qassimi selecting it as part of his programme this year.
Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre is also making a return to the manufacturer team, having sat out the last two events to make space for Al Qassimi and Mikkelsen respectively.
Team principal Yves Matton explained the decision to drop Breen was not performance related, and his hands were simply tied with not being able to run enough cars to accommodate both the Irishman and Al Qassimi.
“Quick on both gravel and tarmac, Kris Meeke will hopefully be able to build on the confidence he acquired during the second leg in Germany, and aim to secure a positive result,” said Matton.
“Stéphane Lefebvre, whose involvement was announced several weeks ago, will also be looking to confirm his progress. Lastly, Khalid Al Qassimi will be driving the third C3 at a rally that he particularly enjoys.”
“Obviously, Craig Breen’s fans will be disappointed that he is not competing in Spain, but I have to contend with budget restrictions that mean we can’t enter any more cars.”
“At the start of the season, Craig’s programme was planned over eleven rallies and we considered, in consultation with Craig, that it was preferable for him to be competing in Wales and Australia instead.”
Citroen have yet to confirm their programme for the remaining two rallies, but with Mikkelsen now out of the frame, fewer – if any – line-up changes are expected for Rally GB and Rally Australia.