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Citroen WRC driver Meeke fired for ‘excessively high number of crashes’

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PARIS (AP) — Northern Ireland driver Kris Meeke and his co-driver have been dropped from Citroen’s World Rally Championship team because of “an excessively high number of crashes.”

Meeke’s latest crash in this year’s series came last weekend at Rally Portugal when his car rolled down a bank, crashing into trees. Meeke and his co-driver Paul Nagle were fortunate to escape serious injury.

A Citroen Racing statement Thursday said the crashes “could have had serious consequences with regard to the crew’s safety.”

The team said it would soon announce a new driver lineup for the remainder of the season.

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make because it affects a driver and a co-driver, but it is largely founded on safety issues which come under my preoccupations as team principal,” Citroen Racing’s Pierre Budar said. “We have consequently chosen to make this decision as a preventive measure.”

Meeke was in sixth place in this year’s driver championship with 43 points. He has won five WRC events over the past three seasons, but his best finish this year has been a third placing in Mexico.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”