Thursday 26 April 2018

Breen upbeat despite Finnish heartache


Declan Quigley

Craig Breen still believes he can win the WRC Academy series, despite last weekend's crushing last-stage loss in Finland.

Speaking after conceding a last-gasp victory to series leader Egon Kaur of Estonia, Breen said that with two of the remaining three rounds on more familiar tarmac -- starting with the next round in Germany in just over a fortnight -- he can still challenge for success in the series. "I lost a lot of time on SS16 where I was caught behind two cars," said the Waterford ace.

"We really wanted to win, we were so hungry for this victory, but that's rallying and we can't think too much about the ifs and buts. We have to focus on the rest of the season now and with tarmac events to come, I think we can do well and maybe still win the Cup."

Breen led into the final day of the rally after taking over the lead of the class for Ford Fiesta machines when Co Tyrone's Alastair Fisher rolled out of the rally on the second day.

The lead swapped six times in the last eight stages and the 21-year-old Billy Coleman award winner was never more than a few seconds ahead of his main rival. He eventually finished a scant 2.6 seconds behind Kaur and at least had the consolation of putting a large haul of points on the board.

Breen now heads to an event closer to home, the Sepam Stonethrower's Rally in Clonmel this weekend, when he will be partnered by Meath man Martin Brady in his WRC Academy two-wheel drive Fiesta machine as he continues his test programme for the world series.

Meanwhile, Peter Dempsey and Patrick McKenna head to Trois Rivieres, Quebec for the latest events in the Firestone Indy Lights and Star Mazda series, respectively.

Dempsey is on a race-by-race deal with Andretti Motorsport and has secured enough funding for another foray in a series, in which he has scored two podiums in his last two events. The Ashbourne driver won on the Trois Rivieres street track in Star Mazda and will relish an opportunity to push for victory, having led on the streets of Long Beach earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, it will be McKenna's first appearance at Trois Rivieres, but he showed well on his outing on the streets of St Petersburg at the beginning of the season and was considerably buoyed by impressive race pace in Mosport last time out -- after changing a down-on-power motor before the race.

The reigning Dunlop Racing Driver of the Year missed out on a top finish when a dragging clutch led to a jump start penalty, but the Swords man is confident he and his Team GDT squad are primed for a competitive outing.

Irish Independent

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