Citroen denies trying to induce Mexico stage stoppage

Citroen WRC team principal Pierre Budar has denied allegations his squad manipulated red flag rules to force a stage cancellation to protect Sebastien Ogier's Rally Mexico victory bid.

Citroen denies trying to induce Mexico stage stoppage

Rally leader Ogier suffered a puncture on the Saturday morning running of the Guanajuatito stage and dropped one minute.

His teammate Esapekka Lappi went off the road near the finish, and the stage was stopped - but only after two cars had passed the Finn's stricken C3 WRC.

The stoppage meant the remaining crews were awarded notional times, Ogier included.

Ogier dropped to third having slowed when he saw the stage was red-flagged, but he moved back up to second overall with a revised time awarded by the organisers.

Kris Meeke - who briefly moved into the lead due to Ogier's puncture before suffering one of his own on the next stage - was one of the drivers who suspected Citroen had pushed for the red flag.

Asked if he thought there was a need to stop the stage to allow cars to pass Lappi's car, Meeke said: "He was clean off the road, there was absolutely no drama.

"We came down to the corner and Janne [Ferm, co-driver] was waving us through. It wasn't even close.

"Somebody should come down hard on them [Citroen] - they're abusing a safety system put in place to protect people's lives."

Budar said Citroen was unaware Ogier had a puncture until he reached the finish of the stage and he vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Lappi pushed the green button to inform the organisers there was no problem with the crew or the car, rather than the red button that would have requested a stoppage.

The clerk of the course then made the call to stop the stage.

"I have no comment about Kris's comments," Budar said. "It's completely nonsense, of course. The red flag is the decision of the clerk of the course.

"Esapekka pushed the green button and he did not push the red button, it's very easy to see on the data."

Mexico organisers underlined that there was no interference from Citroen in the decision process.

Rally director Patrick Suberville told Motorsport.com: "Nobody called us in rally control. The car wasn't a long way off the road.

"We have to remember, we have the WRC cars and then we have the other guys. The others have, let's say, a different style of driving and the car was in the road in a blind left corner. You couldn't see it. Safety first, I'm sorry.

"The clerk of the course took the decision and I totally agreed with him. It was unnecessary risk.

"We didn't know if Lappi was still around the car. We saw two cars go past and they were not slowing down that much. Like I said, it's safety first."

shares
comments
Mexico WRC: Meeke thwarted by puncture after taking lead

Previous article

Mexico WRC: Meeke thwarted by puncture after taking lead

Next article

Mexico WRC: Ogier edges ahead, Tanak closes on Evans

Mexico WRC: Ogier edges ahead, Tanak closes on Evans
Load comments
How Finland's newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia Prime

How Finland's newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion

WRC
Jul 19, 2021
How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale Prime

How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale

The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive

WRC
Jun 28, 2021
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Prime

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win.

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Prime

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Prime

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia Prime

How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Prime

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Prime

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…

WRC
Mar 1, 2021