Waterford’s Craig Breen in action over the weekend in the Tour de Corse Rally in Corsica.
The opening leg of the Tour de Corse was made up of two loops of two stages, all held on roads around Ajaccio: Pietrosella – Albitreccia and Plage du Liamone – Sarrola-Carpocino. Revelling in the glorious sunshine Craig was sixth, 29.7s off leader Kris Meek after the opening two stages. The first day was contested with no service: after lunch overlooking the Mediterranean sea, the crews simply put on new boots and headed back onto the stages. After gaining a place following the retirement of Ott Tanak, Craig moved ahead of Dani Sordo on SS4. The Irishman therefore moved up to fourth place in the overall standings.
Day two was contested on roads to the south of Bastia, featuring two stages, each contested twice: La Porta – Valle di Rostino (48.71km) and Novella (17.27km). Widely expected to be the decisive stage of the rally, SS5 caught out Craig’s team-mate Stéphane Lefebvre when he broke a wheel after hitting a low wall. Shortly afterwards, the team was hit by another cruel blow: after coasting to the end of SS6, Kris Meeke had to retire due to an engine problem. At that stage of the race, the Citroën C3 WRC was still leading the rally, ahead of Neuville and Ogier. Craig Breen and Scott Martin’s morning hadn’t gone entirely smoothly either. The Irishman was forced to drive SS6 blind, having the lost the intercom with his co-driver! Thanks to an ingenious system of gestures, the crew managed to limit the damage, losing only around ten seconds. Craig thus held fifth place in the overall standings at the mid-leg point. On the second loop, Craig found himself fighting with Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn got the better of him on SS7, but Craig remained in touch. The no.8 Citroën C3 WRC driver completed day two in fifth position, 2.8s behind his rival.
After Ajaccio and Bastia, the Tour de Corse headed for Porto-Vecchio on Sunday. The final leg consisted of just two stages: Antisanti – Poggio di Nazza (53.78km) and the Palombaggia Power Stage (10.42km). Fifth at the start of the day, Craig was in sparkling form on the longest stage of the rally. After setting the fastest time at the first two splits, he ended up third on the speed test to move ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala. Going into the Power Stage, it was difficult to predict the final positions in the top five. Although Neuville was clear out in front, Sordo, Ogier, Breen and Latvala were bunched together behind him, separated by less than twenty seconds! On the Palombaggia Power Stage, Craig set the third fastest time but he dropped back to fifth position, missing out on fourth overall by just a tenth of a second! The Irishman could take some consolation from taking three bonus points. To keep up to date visit www.craigbreen.com or www.citroenracing.com.