Thursday 18 January 2018

Motorsport: Breen battles back in Belgium

Ireland's Craig Breen claimed third place in the Belgian round of the European Rally Championship at Ypres, despite losing almost two minutes with a broken driveshaft on his Sainteloc Peugeot late on the first day.

At the finish, the Waterford driver had battled his way back onto the leaderboard to finish one minute and 52 seconds behind Belgian veteran Freddy Loix, who won the rally for a record eighth time. Frenchman Bryan Bouffier took second place in his Peugeot, 31 seconds in front of Breen.

In the Scottish Rally, Daniel McKenna from Monaghan scored his second win in succession in the Rally Two category in round three of the MSA British Rally Championship. He and co-driver Arthur Kierans won their class by more than two minutes to take the lead in the Rally Two series ahead of Norwegian Steve Rokland.

Seb Josse and the crew on Edmond de Rothschild emerged overall winners of the Routes des Princes race around Europe.

The fourth and final stage of the 3,000-mile race was a cross-channel sprint from Plymouth to the Bay of Morlaix via Roscoff that started earlier yesterday.

While Josse dominated for most of the stage, including collecting bonus points at the scoring gate, Sidney Gavignet's Oman Air Musandam with co-skipper Damian Foxall initially led the fleet, raising hopes off beating Josse.

However, just as Musandam had improved performance over the course of the event on the in-port races, so too did Josse, who has been the series supremo on the short inshore courses at each port.

Dun Laoghaire proved the exception as the fleet lost its overall leader when Yann Guichard's Spindrift capsized.

Ironically for Gavignet, a protest committee ruling against the Omani team for a straightforward rule infringement at the start of stage two cost his team the points they would have needed to beat Josse at the end of the series.

HOME duo Colin O'Brien and Rachael Dillon repelled the challenge of two overseas contenders in the singles finals of the Sherry Fitzgerald Irish Close Championships.

Top seed O'Brien, a member of the Ireland squad for the Davis Cup clash with Finland in April, coasted to a 6-1 6-2 win over the defending champion and No 2 seed, Dublin-based Georgia native Lazare Kukhalashsvili, at Donnybrook LTC on Saturday.

But in contrast to the nature of the Malahide left-hander's success, regular Fed Cup ace Dillon had to work extremely hard to see off 16-year-old Romanian Karola Bejenaru in the women's decider. After edging the opening set, No 2 seed Dillon, who learned her tennis at the host club, completely unravelled in the second set, Belfast-based Bejenaru dropping only one game.

However, after the two players were tied at 5-5 in the final set, Dillon broke her opponent's serve and then held her own serve to seal a 6-4 1-6 7-5 victory.

Irish Independent

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