Max Vatanen has been forced to withdraw from Wales Rally GB on health grounds, following a sizeable accident at the previous round in Spain.
Vatanen had initially been given the all-clear after the crash in the rally’s second stage., though co-driver Jacques-Julien Renucci suffered a broken leg from the impact.
The Finn was due to return as a WRC-2 registered competitor with the Drive DMACK team, as the second of his prize drives earned from being the highest scoring DMACK Cup competitor across the Finnish and German rallies last season.
“Unfortunately I have to announce my withdrawal from Wales Rally GB for safety reasons following my accident in RallyRacc Catalunya,” read a statement from Vatanen. “However, I am still doing the recce to prepare for the future, and I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel.”
It has been a tough season for the Fiesta driver, whose best result came in his earlier prize drive at his home event in Finland, where he finished sixth in the WRC-2 category.
His father Ari Vatanen pointed to his lack of running time this season compared to previous years as a factor behind his struggles.
“I don’t want to defend him – it sounds like something a father always says – but I know how tough it is in the R5,” he said. “He had just the one day in Rally Portugal, and that’s not enough to be in the new type of car, after R2 [used in the DMACK Cup].
“One day of rally in Portugal is not good enough to give you the confidence to attack in Finland. In an ideal world we should have had Sardinia and Poland, something which for various reasons we did not do.”
It is currently unclear whether Vatanen will be given another chance to redeem his second prize drive, either in Australia or at another round next season. Having missed out on competing in Great Britain, his future remains unclear, though the elder Vatanen coyly suggested plans were still in the works.
“It’s open for the time being. He has sponsorship of this French company Saint-Mihiel S.A.S. supporting him, so we will very soon find out which direction his future will take.”