2nd for Peugeot driver Breen on Maiden FIAERC Event
February 4, 2013 by Trevor McGrath
Craig Breen driving the Peugeot Rally Academy-Saintéloc Team 207 Super 2000 has finished 2nd overall on Rally Liepaja-Ventspils, round two of the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship. Breen the current Super 2000 world champion was out this weekend for his maiden event as a Peugeot Sport factory driver on the Latvian event. After leading on the opening day (Friday) the Irish driver, partnered by Co. Cork’s David Moynihan suffered on the ultra-fast snow covered stages in the Baltic and was pasted by Finnish driver Jari Ketomaa (Ford Fiesta RRC).
Breen held a solid second position on the final day and at the end of the fifteenth and final stage a delighted Breen said, “I’m absolutely chuffed, this is exactly what we came here to do, and under difficult conditions. To come and at one stage challenge for the victory, I’m overwhelmed, a perfect start. I want to thank Peugeot Sport again for this opportunity, I also want to thank Sainteloc Racing, the car has been incredible here all weekend.”
In the Championship Craig’s result puts him in fourth place overall after scoring eighteen points for his second place finish and twelve bonus points for being the second quickest driver over the Saturday and Sunday stages.
Craig had an incredible opening day recording fastest time on all of the opening leg’s three stages. As he reached Friday’s overnight halt he had a 6.4 advantage over Finnish driver Jari Ketomaa.
On Friday night Craig said, “I just can’t believe it. This has been a dream for me with such a long time and we have all been work for this day over the last few years. I’m so happy to have this opportunity and lead this rally is superb”
Day-two Saturday entailed a double loop of three stages a Craig at the wheel of the Peugeot 207 S2000 picked up where he left off the previous night setting fastest times on the mornings opening two tests (SS4 and SS5) his lead at this point was up to 10 seconds.
Then on the final stage in the morning loop Ketomaa hit back (SS6, Neste oil1 21.31km) by pulling back 11.7 seconds on the Peugeot Sport Academy driver to hold a single second lead as the crews reach MID-DAY service.
The fight continued over the Saturday afternoon stages but it was here that the 207 began to suffer compared to the Regional Rally Car of Ketomaa. By the end of day two Craig’s deficit was 12.1 seconds.
On Saturday evening Peugeot Rally Academy-Saintéloc Team Manager Vincent Ducher explained why Craig was losing out, “We knew that the Ford is faster on the straight sections, 30kph faster than the 207 in fact, at top end speed the 207 reaches 170kph but the Fiesta can get up to 200kph.”
The team’s fears were confirmed as Sunday’s final leg got underway. Conceding 7.4 over the loop wasn’t too severe, however there was a more serious problem as Craig reached the end of 12. In service it was determined that a cable had become disconnected from the alternator; the mechanics was able to rectify the ailing wire and the car was back to full power and able to continue.
Over the final three stages Craig consolidated his position, he did remark and manifold problem after the penultimate test but he was able to nurse the car through the final stage to record a fantastic result on his first FIAERC outing.
There was hard luck for young French driver Stéphane Lefebvre in the two wheel drive category. Driving the new Peugeot 208 R2 on it’s first competitive outing in the end finish second in the class after initially leading over the Friday and Saturday stages.
Provisional Top Three Result
1. Jari Ketomaa/Kay Lindstrom 2:08:15.7
2. Craig Breen /David Moynihan +31 sec
3. Francois Delecour/Dominique Savignoni +2 min 47.5sec
Provisional Championship Standings
1. Jari Ketomaa 39 points
2. Jan Kopechy 38 points
3. Bryan Bouffier 31points
4. Craig Breen 30 points