Despite their high hopes of a top result in Estonia, both Peugeot Rally Academy crews had difficult runs during round six of the 2015 FIA ERC. Craig Breen and Scott Martin were stopped in their tracks just as they appeared to be heading for a podium finish, while Diogo Gago and Jorge Carvalho came seventh in the Junior battle which was won by a Peugeot 208 R2 driver.
The specific, high-speed auto24 Rally Estonia – an event which calls for sound knowledge of the stages – was essentially unknown territory for Craig Breen (Peugeot 208T16) and Diogo Gago (Peugeot 208R2). To compensate, the Peugeot Rally Academy organised a test prior to the start of recce which buoyed the two drivers ahead of Thursday evening’s start. Craig Breen and Scott Martin were fifth fastest on the Qualifying Stage and chose to run 12th on the road in order to benefit from cleaner conditions. Unfortunately, the driver of N°1 208T16 lost a little ground after a braking error on SS1. The incident relegated him to 16th overall, but he fought back to fifth place by the end of Leg 1, despite his limited stage knowledge and top speed handicap compared with certain cars. The Irishman started Saturday’s action with his sights set firmly on a top-three finish in a bid to pocket big championship points.
The last day’s conditions were softer after overnight rain and Craig Breen hit the ground running to close to within three seconds of the podium. With two stages remaining, however, he was eliminated by an oil pressure problem. The best 208T16 finisher was consequently Peugeot Baltic-backed Timmu Korge who celebrated his first outing in the car with fifth place. Diogo Gogo and Jorge Carvalho were contesting the Estonian event for the first time in their 208 R2 and the Portuguese pair’s carefully-paced run enabled them to pick up seventh place after they had used the weekend to fine-tune the handling of their car. Diogo was also pleased with the valuable experience he gained of the rally’s highly specific stages. The Junior battle was won by the Latvian 208 R2 driver Ralfs Sirtakis. Putting the weekend’s disappointment behind them, Craig Breen and Scott Martin are already looking ahead to late-August’s Barum Czech Rally Zlìn. After starting the 2015 FIA ERC’s sixth round at the top of the provisional standings, they will travel to the Czech Republic with a five-point deficit to Kajetan Kajetanowicz. Their determination to bridge that gap will be aided by the return to the Peugeot Rally Academy line-up of the 2014 208 Rally Cup winner Charles Martin behind the wheel of a 208T16. Diogo Gago will be aiming for a top result to conclude his FIA ERC Junior programme.
Craig Breen: It was my second retirement in a row and that’s not good for the championship. I’m obviously disappointed but it’s important to stay positive and there are still several events where we will be able to continue our challenge for the title. It’s a shame because we had prepared thoroughly for this event along with everyone at the Peugeot Rally Academy. It’s not an easy rally because you’re up against drivers who have a good understanding of this type of stage. It was especially frustrating because we managed to improve our times as the weekend progressed, and that’s a sign of the good work the team has achieved so far.
Diogo Gago: I clearly didn’t have enough experience of this event. The stages were very fast and excellent pace notes are necessary if you want to have the confidence. My rivals were very quick and I wasn’t competitive, but we used the rally to try a variety of set-ups. I felt much more comfortable towards the end. The event also enabled me to gain good experience which will be useful for the future.
1, A. Lukyanuk (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), 1h32m25.4s. K. Kajetanowicz (Ford Fiesta R5), +12.7s. 3, R. Aus (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), +1m7.0s. 4, S. Plangi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), +2m6.9s. 5, T. Korge (Peugeot 208T16), +2m23.7s. Etc.
1, K. Kajetanowicz (Ford Fiesta R5), 133 points. 2, Craig Breen (Peugeot 208T16), 128. 3, A. Lukyanuk (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), 82. 4, R. Consani (Citroën DS3 R5), 55. 5, S. Plangi (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X), 43. Etc.
Next FIA ERC outing for the Peugeot Rally Academy: Barum Czech Rally Zlìn (August 28-30)
Craig Breen and Charles Martin (208 T16)
Diogo Gago (208 R2)