Citroen Racing boss Yves Matton has criticised the penalty applied to Kris Meeke for cutting a corner at Rally Australia and believes that without it the Briton would have been able to finish on the podium.
Meeke completed Saturday’s stages in fourth, locked in a back and forth battle with Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen who was just 1.5sec ahead.
But the fight ended that night, when stewards hit Meeke with a 1min 01sec penalty, dropping him to fifth, for driving over a grass area on the repeated Valla stage (SS10).
At Rally Poland in June Mikkelsen was reprimanded by stewards for a similar corner cut, but his penalty was a 5,000 Euro fine and the threat of exclusion if he repeated the offence.
Yves Matton said: “I have no comment on Kris’s penalty, other than to say that on similar facts the [stewards’] decisions are not consistent. But it’s like that. There is nothing more we can do. I just hope if it happens again we have some more consistency with the decisions.”
Meeke regained fourth on Sunday’s opening test but was unable to close the gap to Mikkelsen. Without the penalty, Matton believes it was a fight Meeke would have won.
“I don’t know if Andreas would have made the same tire choice on Sunday morning if he was still fighting, that will stay as a question mark, but for sure Kris was able to secure third place.
“If you take the penalty away, and you look at the times he was doing, I think it was possible for Kris to finish something like 30 or 35 seconds from the victory. And with the experience he has, for sure it was a great performance.”