Citroen insists Kris Meeke's World Rally Championship seat is safe
|By David Evans||Thursday, May 25th 2017, 10:50 GMT|
Citroen team principal Yves Matton insists there is "no question" over Kris Meeke's place in the squad amid his difficult start to the 2017 World Rally Championship.
Matton backed the Rally Mexico winner to return to form on the next WRC round in Sardinia next month.
Meeke led last week's Rally of Portugal before damaging the rear of his car against a rock on Friday afternoon.
Restarting under Rally2, Meeke struggled to find form even before an oil-related problem halted him.
That followed what Meeke called the biggest crash of his career in Argentina, but Matton dismissed any suggestion his future at Citroen was in jeopardy.
"There is no reason why he won't come back with the confidence he had some weeks ago and there is no question about his place in this team," Matton told Autosport.
"I cannot be happy with what happened for Kris.
"The target before the start of the weekend was clear: we wanted the drivers to bring back the cars to the finish without problems.
"We didn't fix a target, we wanted to take out the pressure, we wanted the drivers to follow their feelings and I can't be happy when two of our drivers [Stephane Lefebvre crashed too] go off like this."
Matton admitted the Portugal error had affected Meeke's morale.
"Kris seems affected by this mistake. He seems to be in a bad mood at the moment," he said.
"It's a fine line between being in a good way and winning and things going wrong.
"Drivers at this level are not easy characters, Kris is the same as other guys at this level: he pushes for what he wants.
"But there is no reason we are not able to turn things around."
Meeke, who is only ninth in the WRC standings and 101 points off leader Sebastien Ogier, was candid about his mistake and his feelings.
"It's really frustrating," he said.
"I know frustration has got the better of me this year and that's a weakness in me.
"I get frustrated when we think it's good and it's not good."
Meeke and Craig Breen will have a new team-mate for Sardinia, with Andreas Mikkelsen brought in to replace Lefebvre.
Citroen also believes it is close to a solution for the suspension problems that have beset the C3 WRC so far.
"I don't say we have done 100% of the work, but for sure we have done more than 80% - but we know that the last per cent will be the hardest to find," said Matton.
"We will reach the same level as other brands with Ohlins and the collaboration is higher right now because we put the emphasis on this area."
Meeke agreed with Matton.
"We did a five-day test in Portugal and we found something really positive, something which all three drivers agreed on and we made a good step for Argentina," he said.
"What happened in Argentina was a specific thing and we put that right [for Portugal].
"Yves is right, this thing really is moving in the right direction."