Belfast Telegraph

Rally of Portugal: Duo’s hopes come crashing down

By Sammy Hamill

They didn’t come away entirely empty-handed but Craig Breen and Alastair Fisher left the Rally of Portugal bitterly disappointed.

Both of them had opportunities to win the opening round of the new World Rally Championship Academy only for them both to crash with victory in their grasp.

Breen, winner of the Ulster Rally last year, dominated the opening leg of this all-Ford Fiesta R2 series and had built up a lead of almost a minute when he went off the road and into retirement midway through day two.

Fisher, the Irish production champion, took over and had an advantage of 73 seconds over second-placed Estonian Egon Kaur when he rolled his Fiesta on the penultimate stage, the car ending up against a tree.

Spectators dragged the battered car back onto the road and the 22-year-old Trillick driver nursed it to the rally finish but dropped to fifth place as Kaur took the win ahead of Swede Victor Henriksson and Australian Brendan Reeves.

Fisher’s fifth place netted him 10 points plus two more for two fastest stage times and Breen, fastest on five stages, took five points, but they know it could have been so much more.

The main event, the third round of the World Rally Championship, was won overall by Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier ahead of his team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

Petter Solberg and his Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson were as high as second until their Citroen was hit by a spate of punctures, but they managed to come storming back and claim sixth spot.

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Wayne Boyd had to settle for seventh place in his third race in the US National FF2000 Championship at St Petersburg in Florida.

The former British FF1600 champion from Templepatrick had qualified sixth fastest in his Belardi Racing Van Diemen but was blocked by a tangle of cars at the first corner. He battled back to seventh place as Spencer Pigot of Andretti Autosport won to take the lead in the championship.

In the 500 Club meeting at Kirkistown, Ivor McCullough set a new Formula Ford lap record of 61.08 seconds on his way to victory in the FF1600 open race.

He finished ahead of Adrian Pollock and reigning FF1600 champion Jonny McMullan, who had won the earlier Pre-90 race.

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