Breen mounts late charge to seal Sanremo Rally success
Craig Breen heads back to Ireland and on to this weekend's Easter Rally on a high after a stunning victory in Italy.
Already leader of the Irish Tarmac Championship, the former Citroen factory driver moved himself into contention for the Italian national series too with a last stage charge which saw him and co-driver Paul Nagle win the Sanremo Rally, turning an 11-second deficit into a four-second victory in their Metior Sports Skoda Fabia R5.
Breen, who had been dropped by Citroen at the end of last season, continued his campaign to get back to the World Championship with a third regional rally win in four starts and will be the clear favourite to add an Easter Rally victory next Friday and Saturday.
Sanremo, which was won by his old Citroen team-mate Kris Meeke back in 2009, is one of Italy's most iconic rallies - "a proper tarmac rally" Breen called it - and has been dominated by Italian drivers.
But after tracking the Ford Fiesta of long-time leader Simone Campedelli through the first two days, Breen produced a blistering finish on the 25-mile last stage to snatch one of the "most amazing" wins of his career.
Giandomenico Basso, the first round winner, was third in another Skoda and retains the championship lead ahead of Campedelli with Breen up to third, just two points behind.
There was a first win for Cathan McCourt in the Moonraker Rally, third round of the Irish Forest Championship at Ballyvourney, with the Tyrone driver bringing his R5 Fiesta to the finish over a minute ahead of the Citroen DS3 of Niall Henry in an Ulster one-two.
McCourt and co-driver Barry McNulty led virtually all the way, staying in front as their closest challengers, including Barry McKenna, Patrick O'Brien and Garry Jennings, fell away, former Tarmac champion Jennings retiring his WRC Subaru on the final stage.
Derek Crossen won the two-wheel-drive category in sixth in his Ford Escort.
Meanwhile, Wayne Boyd had to settle for sixth place in the opening round of the European Le Mans LMP3 sportscar series at Paul Ricard in France.
Boyd had been ninth in the pro-am Le Mans Cup on Saturday and yesterday he and his United Autosports co-drivers Garret Grist and Tommy Erdos were unable to get into the thick of the battle.