Rock ends Craig Breen’s chance of victory in Wales
Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen was at WRC Wales Rally GB (Nov 12th – 15th) in a last chance effort to take a WRC2 win in his SAINTéLOC Racing run Peugeot 208T16 this season. Having enjoyed three successive wins earlier this year on the European Rally championship he had been unable to replicate that success as he made his bid for the WRC2 category title.
Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin were very optimistic as they approached the 2015 World Rally Championship finale as they both had extensive experience of the stages and competing on the event. For a rally in a place that Craig regards as his second home the shakedown stage on Thursday morning was a final opportunity to get his car set-up perfected before the ceremonial start that evening. With no service halt to repair any damage to the 208T16 during the six stages of day one the Peugeot Rally Academy ace would very much have to drive with his head rather than his head but he felt quiet comfortable on the 32.14 km rain soaked gravel SS1 and set the pace from the start by posting the fastest time. It was French driver Eric Camilli that emerged from the stage a mere 1.9 seconds in arrears over the distance, confirming himself as a contender for the win.
Before the mid-day regroup there was a chance for Craig to tame once more the Myherin stage where he clinched his World Rally Academy title back in 2011 and that saw him lead WRC2 by almost nine seconds. As all too often this season bad luck has halted Craig’s charge and on stage four a rock pulled out into the driving line by a car ahead spelled disaster. A puncture along with nearly two and a half minutes of lost time dropped the 208T16 back to eight in the category eventually ending the day in seventh spot. A very wet dark morning greeted the drivers for day two on Saturday and a recovering Craig stopped the clocks on the opening stage at exactly the same time as Finland’s Teemu Suninen who was by this point slowly losing a nip tuck battle with Camilli. Fog and heavy rain were making conditions very difficult but Craig relishing the conditions kept himself in touch with those in front, the gap too great to bridge but he was determined to show pace and be there to pick up the pieces should any of those ahead falter.
The plan worked and Craig jumped up to third as the cars headed into the dark for the two final stages of the day. It was a windswept four stage sprint to the finish on Sunday when Craig posted fastest times on all but one of the tests to take third in WRC2 and another podium finish this year.
At the finish Craig said “It’s not what Scott and I came here to do but we are delighted to at least end our unlucky season on the podium, I’ve enjoyed driving in these challenging conditions and only for that rock on Friday I feel we had the ability to win here.”