Martin Won't Return this Season

Peugeot have announced that Markko Martin will not return to the World Rally Championship in 2005

Martin Won't Return this Season

Martin missed the last round of the Championship, the Rally Japan, after his co-driver Michael 'Beef' Park was killed in an accident on the Rally GB.

The Estonian has told Peugeot he does not wish to return this season following the tragedy.

Martin's place on the European asphalt double-header of Rallye de France and the Catalonia Rally will be taken by Frenchman Nicolas Bernardi. The 27 year-old has been preferred to Daniel Carlsson, who finished eighth in the car on the Rally Japan.

A Peugeot statement said: "Markko Martin has announced his desire not to compete in the last three rounds of the 2005 season. In his absence, it is the FFSA Equipe de France driver Nicolas Bernardi who has been nominated to drive the second 307 WRC in the two remaining asphalt rounds of this year's World Rally Championship."

Nicolas Bernardi has worked his way up through the ranks of Peugeot Sport's driver promotion scheme, beginning with France's nationwide Rallye Jeunes talent-spotting operation in which he was a finalist in 1995. He went on to claim the Volant Peugeot 206 series in 2000 before becoming a works driver in 2001 contesting the FIA Super 1600 Championship with a Peugeot 206.

He finished second in the 2004 FIA Super 1600 World Championship and currently leads the French Rally Championship driving a 206 WRC.

He has also started two WRC events this season, however retired from both the Rally Deutschland and Rally GB.

A descision on the driver of the second car on the final rally of the season, the Rally Australia, will be taken later. PEugeot will pull out of the Championship at the end of this season.

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