Breen determined to re-launch his Championship attack in the mid Atlantic.
May 14, 2014 by Leo Nulty
After the heartbreak of suffering a technical failure during round four of this year’s FIA European Rally Championship “The Circuit of Ireland Rally”, Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen is very much planning to get his 2014 campaign back on track this week as the championship moves on to round five at the ERC Sata Rallye Azores, the Portuguese round of the championship.
Based on the largest island of São Miguel from May 15th – 17th the rally will feature seventeen tough stages that will cover nearly 220Kms of sandy gravel roads that wind their way through the island’s world famous volcanic scenery.
It will be Craig’s second time to compete on the rally as he was runner up there last year behind the wheel of a Peugeot 207 S2000 after successfully battling the mud and severe weather conditions on what essentially was a learning exercise as he settled into his new team. Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin will start the rally as the number one seeds in their Peugeot 208 T16 and as the rally is a month later this year Craig says he’s really looking forward to it because the date change means that the rally shouldn’t be affected by the torrential rain like last year which saw stage cancellations and very difficult driving conditions.
Fifty-six crews will contest this year’s ERC Sata Rallye Azores which is celebrating its 49th running and it will kick off with an exciting but non-competitive short asphalt course along Ponta Delgada’s seafront and surrounding streetson Wednesday evening to showcase what the fans can expect over the following three days. On Thursday (15th) the rally takes up the usual ERC format with free practice before a 3.22km qualifying stage in the morning where the fastest driver in qualifying will earn the right to be first to select their starting position for the opening three stages of Leg 1 later on that evening. The Leg restarts on Friday morning and will see the crews tackle eight challenging stages that will test their strength and that of their cars as they will have rallied almost 44km through the difficult terrain before returning to the mid-day service in Ponta Delgada at 3pm before they repeat the loop of four stages again.
Leg 2 on Saturday (16th) although only having six stages with a mid-day service will be every bit as challenging as the previous day as it will feature four stages in excess of the 20km each that will allow little margin for error due to their tight and twisty nature before the crews return to Ponta Delgada’s seafront where the winners will take to the podium for the victory celebrations.
Craig will have plenty of competition for the rally win as the large entry list consists of a number of ERC regulars including Craig’s Dutch Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Kevin Abbring, Vasily Gryazin, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Bruno Magalhães. Bernardo Sousa and local hero Ricardo Moura will join Magalhães amongst the home entries and for sure they will be on a charge to defend home honours.