Leg-stretcher Breen scores ERC stage best
Craig Breen hit back from his Saturday sadness with a perfect Sunday morning drive on ORLEN 77th Rally Poland by going fastest of all on SS10.
Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle were forced to retire on SS7 after a rock, hidden on the ‘racing’ line, broke the rear suspension of their Team MRF Tyres’ Hyundai i20 R5.
But they restarted this morning and after going third fastest on SS9, they topped the timing screens on SS10 for their first stage win of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship season and the first on gravel in the ERC for the Indian tyre manufacturer.
“We were given a two-minute gap and were able to stretch our legs a bit more,” said Breen, following his rapid run. “It’s a great result. We have shown great pace this weekend. The team have put in a lot of development into the tyre. To wina stage in our second gravel rally is great for Team MRF Tyres.”
After going second quickest on Friday evening’s opening superspecial, Saturday started well for Breen after he went fourth quickest on SS2. And it would get better on SS3 when the five-time ERC event winner went third fastest.
A technical problem on SS4 cost Breen more than one minute but he fought back strongly with the fourth fastest time on both SS5 and SS6 to climb into fifth place.
Then, approximately one kilometre from the finish of SS7, the 28.70-kilometre Wieliczki test, all hopes of a strong result ended, although plenty of vital data for the next generation of MRF Tyres was still gathered.
“We were happy with the pace we had,” said Breen following Saturday’s action. “The tyres and the car were handling very well and we were always setting times inside the top four. We were happy that we could have gotten a top result for Team MRF Tyres.
“It was unfortunate that we had a problem in the first loop but we were able to fix the car at service and come back. The Team MRF Tyres car was fast and we were climbing back up the standings. Then the suspension broke near the end of SS7 and that is where the day ended for us.”