Austria’s Jännerrallye, opening round of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship, turned out to be a delicate challenge for Craig Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin. The Peugeot Rally Academy pair and their 208 T16, which underwent several changes over the winter break, had to settle for just one full day of competition after their crash on the event’s first stage.
The 2015 Jännerrallye lived up to its wintry reputation with a completely snowbound route and Craig Breen reported a lack of grip after tackling the pre-start qualifying stage. However, that didn’t prevent him from posting the seventh best time despite running on tyres which were ill-suited to the snowy conditions that were a hallmark of the two-day competition. The Irishman chose to start the event in eighth position on the road and had his sights set on a top result. Unfortunately, he was caught out by one of the opening stage’s numerous pitfalls. His 208 T16 didn’t suffer any damage but it ended up stuck in snow, forcing Craig Breen and Scott Martin to hand in their timecard for the day.
They took advantage of the so-called Rally2 ruling to re-join on Day 2 in order to perfect their skills on snow ahead of their next two outings: the Rallye Monte-Carlo (WRC2) and Latvia’s Rally Liepaja (ERC). Their reward was some useful stage times despite the Irishman’s limited experience of competing on this sort of surface and he was pleased with the opportunity to gain valuable experience: “I was quite fired up at the idea of kicking off another season with the Peugeot Rally Academy but I am obviously disappointed that I was forced out so soon. Because of my ‘off’ early on, I wasn’t able to fight for a top result but I’m still happy to have had a chance to gain experience on snow. That will be a big help for the next rallies on my programme, and they are looming very fast! My thoughts are now turned towards the rest of the year...”
Meanwhile, in addition to winning the ERC 3 battle in his 208 R2, Poland’s Slawonir Ogryzek claimed a strong 11th place overall. The team is already looking ahead to round two of the FIA ERC in Latvia where Craig Breen will be joined by the 2014 208 Rally Cup winner Diogo Gago who will make his ERC Junior debut in a 208 R2.
Final positions: 1, K.Kajetanowicz (Ford Fiesta R5), 2h50m52.6s. 2, R.Consani (Peugeot 207 S2000), +7m7.4s. 3, A.Lukyanuk (Ford Fiesta R5), +8m28.1s. 4, J.Tarabus (Skoda Fabia S2000), +8m48.8s. 5, M.Fischerienher (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9), +22m38.6s. 6, J.Hirschi (Peugeot 208 T16), +27m26.9s. Etc.
Next FIA ERC outing for the Peugeot Rally Academy: Rally Liepāja (February 6-8)