Craig Breen pays price after tyres controversy

Having secured what seemed a comfortable victory in the Rallye Du Valais, the final round of the European Rally Championship, Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16) was subsequently handed a post-event two-minute penalty that dropped him to second.

Craig Breen pays price after tyres controversy

It was symptomatic of his season’s performances that, were it not for a series of non-finishes from strong positions, the Waterford driver could have actually won the ERC title long before this final round. Instead, he had to settle for second in both the event and the championship although he did win the ERC Asphalt Masters title.

On Saturday the Peugeot Academy driver and his British co-driver Scott Martin stopped at the end of the 17th and final stage and celebrated a 39.4 win over the Ford Fiesta R5 of Alexey Lukyanuk. Four hours later the positions were reversed when it was discovered the Peugeot Rally Academy team had (mistakenly) used 20 marked Michelin tyres instead of the allocated 18. They were handed a two-minute penalty.

Throughout the three-day rally Breen was in total control. On Saturday’s final leg two fastest stage times gave him a lead of a minute and 18.7 seconds. A few mistakes on S.S. 14 and a spin on Stage 15 four corners from the finish was an annoyance. Thereafter he just concentrated on getting to the finish, unaware of tyre issues.

Meanwhile, in the final double header race of the International GT Open series in Barcelona, Cork driver Matt Griffin and teammate Duncan Cameron brought their AF Corse run Ferrari 458 Italia home in sixth in Saturday’s race and eighth yesterday.

On the domestic front, the Carrick-on-Suir Rallysprint at Waterford Airport Industrial Park was won by Cashel’s Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi), who managed to fend off Waterford’s Keith Power (Toyota Corolla WRC).

Newly crowned Triton Showers Junior National Rally champion James Bradley (Citroen C2R2) was third. O’Connell led after the first of the five timed runs opening up a 4.2 seconds lead over Power, who campaigned the Corolla WRC usually driven by his father Eddie. O’Connell, who added half a second to his lead margin on the second loop.

Aided by familiarity as he was also driving a Renault Clio S1600 (finishing fifth) Power cut the deficit to 2.9 seconds after the third run. On the penultimate run the margin stood at 2.1 seconds, however, both clocked the exact same time on the final run with O’Connell taking victory.

Meanwhile, Derek Tohill took his OlsbergsMSE-built Ford Fiesta Supercar to a debut win in the seventh round of the Irish Rallycross Championship at Mondello Park. He cruised through the heats and was untouchable in the Supercar Final. Thomas O’Raftery (Fiesta Supercar) and Willie Coyne (Nova) completed the podium line up.

In the Patch Tyre Equipment/Naas Court Hotel backed Fiesta Championship Peter Campbell took the laurels. Waterford motorcyclist Brian McCormack made his rallycross debut, winning three of the heats before finishing fifth in the race. The Rallycar Final was won by Jack Newman (Escort).

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