ERC: Craig Breen’s thrilling comeback!26/10/2014 - 22:51

Rallye du Valais 2014 23-25 october 2014
This weekend’s visit to Switzerland provided the Peugeot 208 T16 with another opportunity to showcase its competitive potential with a score of 14 stage wins from a possible 19. However, the Peugeot Rally Academy’s Craig Breen and Kevin Abbring met with mixed fortunes in the course of the 2014 FIA ERC’s penultimate clash which featured a cocktail of slippery and treacherous mountain roads.

Craig Breen in fighting form!

Victory on the Qualifying Stage provided Craig Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin with the ideal start to the Swiss event. The Irishman followed up with the fastest time on SS2 but then dropped 1m15s with a puncture on Thursday evening’s ‘Anzere’ stage. The incident relegated him to 20th overall and deprived him of any chance of victory, yet he fought back with the bit between his teeth to recover 19 places and complete the rally just 42 seconds short of the eventual winner, leaving him with a strong taste of what might have been. Helped on their way by the formidable competitiveness of their 208 T16 in the difficult conditions (very cold weather, including ice in places), Breen and Scott Martin ended up second overall after claiming the highest number of special stage wins (9 fastest times), plus the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy as a reward for their efforts.

Kevin Abbring’s competitive speed!

The event’s early leaders were Kevin Abbring and Sebastien Marschall before they were side-lined by a mechanical issue on SS4. They then re-joined for the final day under the Rally2 ruling to claim three further fastest times before disappearing for good on SS17. The Dutchman was pleased with the performance of his Peugeot 208 T16 throughout the last leg and is keen to for action to resume in Corsica at the beginning of November. Two Peugeot 208 T16s in the top five, plus FIA ERC Junior success for Andrea Crugnola. Peugeot 208 T16 privateers Jonathan Hirschi and Vincent Landais secured an assertive fourth place overall, while victory in the FIA ERC Junior battle went to Andrea Crugnola after a particularly polished display.

Driver quotes:

Craig Breen:
“It was a fantastic weekend! It was great to be back on the podium after the tough season we have had. We lost a big chunk of time with our puncture on the first day. Otherwise, I think we would have been capable of winning the rally, as our score of fastest times showed. I would like to thank everyone at the Peugeot Rally Academy for all their work this weekend. Now, we need to concentrate on Corsica where the team will be on home ground. I hope we succeed in rounding off the year with a win, after starting our campaign with the Peugeot 208 T16 with victory in Greece.”
Kevin Abbring:
“I am happy with the performance of the Peugeot 208 T16, even though we didn’t finish the rally. We managed to win stages while Craig [Breen] and Esapekka Lappi were fighting for victory. The conditions weren’t easy this weekend and grip kept changing all the time. It was very cold and the stages switched frequently from wet to icy. Choosing the right tyres was quite complex, but the car’s set-up was perfect for the conditions. I can’t wait for the Tour de Corse and it would be nice to see the two Peugeot 208 T16s finish on the podium there…”
Rallye International du Valais – final positions: 1, E. Lappi (Skoda Fabia S2000), 2h46m22.4s. 2, Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16), +42.0s. 3, S. Wiegand (Skoda Fabia S2000), +3m4.1s. 4, J. Hirschi (Peugeot 208 T16), +4m10.2s. 5, O. Burri (Ford Fiesta R5), +4m17.8s. 6, R. Consani (Peugeot 207 S2000), +4m24.8s. 7, N. Althaus (Skoda Fabia S2000), +5m56.9s. 8, P. Perroud (Skoda Fabia S2000), +6m22.5s. 9, F. Gonon (Subaru Impreza R4), +7m8.9s. 10, J-P. Radoux (Ford Fiesta R5), +9m53.5s. Etc.
Next FIA ERC outing for the Peugeot Rally Academy: Giru di Corsica - Tour de Corse (November 6-8)

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