Circuit of Ireland Victory hopes dashed as Breen retires. Peugeot Academy Update.
April 20, 2014 by Leo Nulty
The 208T16’s memorable win in Greece can hardly compensate for the disappointments endured by Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen this weekend in Northern Ireland. This notoriously difficult round of the FIA European Rally Championship proved tough for both Peugeot Rallye Academy drivers.
Breen and Kevin Abbring were both intent on shining on the challenging, all-asphalt Circuit of Ireland and spent the first day trading positions. From the outset, they faced fierce competition but, as Lappi eased ahead, Abbring and Breen traded second and third places several times.
Along with his co-driver Sebastian Marshall, Kevin Abbring emerged as a strong contender for victory in Northern Ireland. Eager to make up for the cruel fate he suffered in Greece, he was intent on playing a leading role this time round and started the bumpy event with the bit between his teeth. The Dutchman posted second fastest times on SS2 and SS6, and was third on SS1, SS3, SS4 and SS5, but was then eliminated with a broken radiator after SS7.
That left Craig Breen alone in his 208 T16 to defend the colours of the Peugeot Rallye Academy.
The Irishman’s objective in Northern Ireland was to repeat his recent performance in Greece. After initially figuring in second and third positions, he pushed harder still on Friday’s later stages to close the gap to the leader thanks to fastest times on SS8, SS9 and SS10.
After completing Day 1 in second place, the two-time world champion (WRC Academy and S-WRC) and his co-driver Scott Martin hit the ground running on Saturday. However, their run came to a halt three kilometres after the start of SS12 when their engine stalled and failed to restart because of a sensor problem.
Craig Breen: “These are things that can happen with a new car. I am obviously bitterly disappointed to have retired on this event so close to home, especially after Scott and I managed to narrow the gap to Lappi from 20 to 12 seconds on Friday. That made chasing for victory a real possibility. My car had the speed and we had a good fight, so a big thank you to the team for all the hard work they put in. I am looking forward to the next round in the Azores to try to fight for another victory.”
Kevin Abbring: “Compared with more experienced drivers who are more accustomed to this type of terrain, I wasn’t pleased with the notes I took during recce. It is such a complex rally, and the car is new. We absolutely need to find some evolutions to be in good shape for the next round in the Azores and try to recover the level of performance we know we have. As everyone knows, you always want to win when you start an event and I think we had the potential to come away with a top result. I am obviously very disappointed.”
1, E. Lappi (Skoda Fabia S2000). 2, S. Wiegand (Skoda Fabia S2000), +1m50.0s. 3, R. BARRABLE (Ford Fiesta R5), +1m57.5s. 4, R. Consani (Peugeot 207 S2000), +5m34.0s. 5, N. Simpson (Skoda Fabia S2000), +6m33.5s. Etc.
Next ERC outing for the Peugeot Rally Academy (Breen, Abbring and Lefevbre): Rallye Azores (May 15-17)