Thursday 27 April 2017

Breen moves into top five of World Rally Drivers' Championship after strong showing in Sweden

Craig Breen of Ireland and Scott Martin of Great Britain compete in their Ciroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen DS3 WRC during Day Three of the WRC Monte-Carlo
Craig Breen of Ireland and Scott Martin of Great Britain compete in their Ciroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen DS3 WRC during Day Three of the WRC Monte-Carlo

Sean McGoldrick

Ireland's Craig Breen has finished fifth in Rally Sweden and is now fifth overall in the 2017 World Rally Drivers' Championship with 20 points after two rounds.

Breen also finished fifth in last month's opening round in Monte Carlo and he again finished ahead of his Citroen team-mates, Tyrone's Kris Meeke – who again failed to finish – and Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre who was eighth.

It was the first event in which Breen drove Citroen's new 2017 WRC factory car and he was slightly disappointed with his own performance, tweeting afterwards.

“Difficult, okay, fifth place here is perhaps less spectacular than what we we did in Monte (Carlo). We have a bit of work to do but I have absolute faith in the guys back at the factory.

“This car has so much potential. I really think we can make something special.”

It remains to be seen whether Breen will have use of the new 2017 car in round three of the world championships in Mexico next month. The original plan was for Breen and Lefebvre to have the car in alternate rallies until a third Citroen WRC 2017 car is available in early summer.

Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala won the event, winning today's final three stages today on icy and snowy roads in his Toyota Yaris to claim his fourth victory in the race and he now leads the World championship.

Estonia's Ott Tanak, who threw everything he could into the last day, but with Latvala enjoying a 20-second lead going into the final stage it would have taken a major mistake for the Finn to lose; so Tanak has to be content with second spot.

Sebastien Ogier, who won round one in Monte Carlo, recovered from a costly spin and stall on the first corner of the first stage today to secure third spot.

The big drama in the rally occurred unexpectedly in a special spectator stage late on Saturday when rally leader Thierry Neuville, driving a Hyandai, crashed out. It was the second rally in a row that the Belgian retired when he was leading.

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