Belfast Telegraph

Breen leads Citroen's snowy test


By Sammy Hamill

Craig Breen was edged out of a podium place at the end of the first full day of Rally Sweden but continued to lead Citroen's challenge to a dominant Hyundai team.

The two-time Circuit of Ireland winner had been third courtesy of two fastest times but lost out on the final stage of the day to Hayden Paddon who made it an all-Hyundai top three behind team-mates Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Ironically, on a day when starting order was all important, the Korean cars benefitted from a disappointing Monte Carlo Rally. While the leaders after the opening round of the World championship, including Sebastien Ogier, Ott Tanak, Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke, faced forest roads covered in fresh snow, the Hyundais - and Breen, too - gained added traction from their tracks.

For Citroen team leader Meeke it was all about damage limitation, the Dungannon driver saying his focus was staying out of trouble and staying ahead of the Ford Fiesta of World champion Ogier.

He may have been down in 10th but that was more than a minute and two places ahead of Monte Carlo winner Ogier who suffered most because of his road opening role. The Toyotas of Tanak and Latvala were eighth and ninth.

Day two, however, will see the starting positions reversed with the Hyundais going first and acting as the snowploughs, leaving Meeke and co to take advantage of better road conditions.

Breen made full use of his ninth place start to challenge at the front of the rally and looked good for third overall until he half spun into a snowbank on the day's final stage, allowing Paddon to edge ahead by half-a-second.

Another of the Citroen drivers, Mads Ostberg, was fifth ahead of the Ford of Teemu Suninen with the Toyota of Esapekka Lappi seventh.

Callum Devine was seventh on his debut in the World Junior series, 34th overall, the young Derry driver describing his first snow rally as "challenging".

Belfast Telegraph

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