Belfast Telegraph

Crash provides Breen with food for thought ahead of home Circuit of Ireland Rally

By Sammy Hamill

Craig Breen may have conquered the roads of Greece to win the Acropolis Rally with a virtually flawless performance but he has been given a sharp reminder not to take his home round of the European championship, the Circuit of Ireland, for granted.

A return to Irish stages and a full-blown test run on the Circuit of Kerry at the weekend ended with his Peugeot 208 T16 off the road and out of the rally.

But Breen, the first Irish driver to win the iconic Greek event in nearly 50 years and leader of the European series, was far from downhearted. "That's the highs and lows of rallying for you," he said.

"Overall it was a good weekend – great to be back home and be able to let the local fans see the new T16 Peugeot. It was also a reminder how difficult and demanding Irish rallies can be. They can really bite you."

But Breen will have been encouraged with the competitive times he set on three of the four stages he completed before the R5 class Peugeot slipped off the road and became beached on a bank. "There was little or no damage but there weren't any spectators around at that point to help us and we couldn't get it back on the road," he explained.

Second fastest to the more powerful WRC Subaru of Irish national champion Declan Boyle, the Kerry winner, on stages one and four, Breen lost almost a minute on stage three with a broken drivershaft before crashing out.

He thought it was an invaluable exercise ahead of next week's Circuit of Ireland where he will line up against the likes of former Monte Carlo Rally winner Bryan Bouffier and Easpekka Lappi, the Finn who sits four points behind him in the European standings.

Boyle, meanwhile, will carry an unbeaten record this season into the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit, where he will be one of the strongest contenders in the national division.

He won in Kerry by nearly two minutes from the Subaru of Hugh Hunter with the WRC Ford Fiesta of Daragh O'Riordan third.

Two more drivers preparing for the Circuit, Kenny McKinstry and Sam Moffett, were fourth and fifth.

It was Moffett's first run in his WRC Fiesta which has been de-tuned to Regional Rally Car (RRC) specification to meet ERC regulations and allow last year's Donegal International winner to compete in the main event.

Belfast Telegraph

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