CRAIG BREEN REMAINS ON CORSE
Saturday was a tough day for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, as Kris Meeke (mechanical issue whilst leading) and Stéphane Lefebvre (minor impact) dropped out of the race in quick succession. Fifth overall going into the final leg, Craig Breen will be ready to seize the slightest opportunity to progress.
- Day two was contested on roads to the south of Bastia, featuring two stages, each contested twice: La Porta – Valle di Rostino (48.71km) and Novella (17.27km).
- Widely expected to be the decisive stage of the rally, SS5 caught out Stéphane Lefebvre. 5km into the speed test, the young Frenchman broke a wheel after hitting a low wall. Stéphane and his co-driver Gabin Moreau immediately began work trying to fix the car. However, despite their makeshift repairs, they were unable to contest the next stage after exceeding the time limit to check in at the start of SS6.
- Shortly afterwards, the team was hit by another cruel blow: after coasting to the end of SS6, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle had to retire due to an engine problem. When the car made it back to service, the team confirmed that their rally was over. At that stage of the race, the Citroën C3 WRC was still leading the rally, ahead of Neuville and Ogier.
- Craig Breen and Scott Martin's morning hadn't gone entirely smoothly either. The Irishman was forced to drive SS6 blind, having the lost the intercom with his co-driver! Thanks to an ingenious system of gestures, the crew managed to limit the damage, losing only around ten seconds. Craig thus held fifth place in the overall standings at the mid-leg point.
- On the second loop, Craig Breen found himself fighting with Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn got the better of him on SS7, but Craig remained in touch. The no.8 Citroën C3 WRC driver completed day two in fifth position, 2.8s behind his rival.
- Tomorrow, the Tour de Corse concludes on roads around Porto-Vecchio. Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre will contest the final leg, which will be made up of two stages over a competitive distance of 64km.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: "Kris' retirement, whilst he was leading, is obviously a huge disappointment for the whole team. But it's part and parcel of motorsport and we now have to identify the cause of the problem to make sure it doesn't happen again. We remain positive, because we have shown the very high level of performance of the Citroën C3 WRC on tarmac. Tomorrow, Craig and Stéphane will be aiming to make it to the finish to score points towards the Manufacturers' World Championship. Craig is less than two seconds off fourth place, so he has a chance to move further up the standings."
Craig Breen: " The Tour de Corse is undoubtedly the worst place in the world to lose the intercom! We nonetheless managed not to lose too much time on SS6. This afternoon, there was a bit more pressure on my shoulders after Kris and Stéphane's retirements. I kept out of trouble and I'm still within striking distance of Jari-Matti Latvala. We'll see tomorrow if we are able to go after fourth place."
Kris Meeke: "Obviously, this is not the outcome I was hoping for, but it's part and parcel of the sport. In order for a car to go as fast as possible, there are tens of people who work on thousands of parts… and sometimes, it doesn't work quite as it should. In any event, this weekend has given me a huge confidence boost for the future. It was really special to lead this rally, which I think is the most difficult tarmac event. We know that our C3 WRC can win on all surfaces and that's what we’ll try to do in Argentina, and then in Portugal and everywhere else."
Stéphane Lefebvre: " We didn't hit the wall that hard, but hard enough to break part of the suspension. We tried to repair it so we could keep driving in the afternoon and pick up more experience. Unfortunately, we arrived at the time control after the maximum thirty-minute limit and were therefore excluded. We'll be back under Rally2 rules tomorrow. I'll try to restart at a good pace in order to leave Corsica on a positive note."
UNOFFICIAL STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:44:10.2
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +38.9
3. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +57.7
4. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:09.4
5. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:12.2
6. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:43.8
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Skoda Fabia R5) +6:21.7
8. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +7:29.6
9. Sarrazin / Renucci (Skoda Fabia R5) +7:46.8
10. Rossel / Fulcrand (DS 3 R5) +9:56.5