Breen fades but Ogier closes in on title rival
Sebastien Ogier is right back in the fight for a sixth successive world title after his record fifth Wales Rally GB victory.
Ogier, who will leave the M-Sport Ford team at the end of the season to re-join Citroen, closed to within seven points of series leader Thierry Neuville with two rounds remaining. But this was a win the French champion could never have expected, not after his Fiesta lost first and second gears on Friday and he dropped to eighth.
But he clawed his way back to win by 10 seconds from the Toyota of Jari-Matti Latvala, helped by the cruel demise of long-time leader Ott Tanak and a mistake by title rival Neuville on Saturday morning.
Tanak was in a league of his own until the sumpguard of his Toyota was ripped off, puncturing the radiator, and Neuville ditched his Hyundai, falling back to eventually finish fifth.
The expected last day charge for the podium from Craig Breen never materialised. Just 13 seconds off the lead and less than two behind the Toyota of fellow Circuit of Ireland winner Esapekka Lappi overnight, Breen fell off the pace yesterday, his Citroen finishing a distant fourth.
Ulster Rally winner Matt Edwards clinched the British rally series on the first of the two rounds staged within the rally.
Randalstown's Johnnie Mulholland fought his way to the finish to win the British Cadet class in his R2 Ford Fiesta but there was disappointment for William Creighton, mechanical failure on stage three sidelining his Peugeot and ending his hopes of winning the British Junior title.
Meanwhile, it proved a long but worthwhile trip to the Far East for Colin Turkington.
The new British Touring Car champion achieved his pole position, his podium finish, his first fastest lap and a TAG Heuer watch for his efforts in the Chinese TCC series.
Shortly after wrapping up his third British title at Brands Hatch last Sunday, the Portadown driver flew out to Wuhan city in central China to join the VW333 Racing team as an international wild card entry.
Despite never having seen the Wuhan street circuit before, having to switch from his West Surrey rear-wheel-drive BMW to a front-wheel-drive Volkswagen Lamando and adapt to Kumho tyres instead of Dunlop, Turkington was fastest in free practice and went on to qualify on pole position for the first of two races over the weekend.
He got swallowed up off the start line in race one but fought back to finish fourth, setting fastest lap and collecting valuable points as his VW333 team-mate Zhang Zhen won.
Seventh on the reverse grid for race two, he battled his way through to take third place and gain more points for the VW team as his BTCC rival Adam Morgan won in a locally built Senova.
He will be back in China for the final rounds of the series at the Tianma circuit in three weeks' time.