Craig Breen moved himself back into contention for the Super 2000 division of the World championship by taking maximum points on Wales Rally GB.
The 23-year-old WRC Academy champion from Waterford led the series earlier in the year but slipped back to fourth place following the accident in Sicily in which his co-driver Gareth Roberts was killed.
Now teamed with Kris Meeke’s regular co-driver Paul Nagle, Breen put in a strong performance in Wales at the weekend, finishing 13th overall in his S2000 Ford Fiesta to move within six points of leader P-G Andersson with two rounds remaining.
Breen led virtually from start to finish, briefly slipping behind the Fiesta of Yaseed Al Rajhi when he incurred 80 seconds in road penalties following a gearbox change on Saturday.
However Al Rajhi, who was co-driven by Ulsterman Michael Orr, was hit with a five minute penalty for twice exceeding the speed limit on road sections and fell back to third. It was Tom Cave who finished second as his Proton team-mate Andersson ended up in sixth.
Breen’s fellow Irish driver, Alastair Fisher re-joined the race to take fifth, denying Andersson an extra two points.
At the front of the rally, Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala scored only his second victory of the season but World champion Sebastien Loeb denied Ford a one-two finish.
Loeb had trailed Petter Solberg and his Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson for most of the way but edged in front by a 10th of a second to finish second. Meanwhile, Wayne Boyd finished his comeback to American racing by grabbing two podium finishes in the final two races of the US National FF2000 series in Virginia.
The Templepatrick driver finished third in race one and second in race two for the Belardi team as American Spencer Pigot ended the season with back-to-back victories.
In Sao Paulo, Jonny Kane and his Strakka team finished in fifth place overall and second in the World Endurance championship Privateers’ Cup.