Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16) dominated the opening leg of the Rallye du Valais in Switzerland, the 10th and final round of the ERC. The Waterford driver and his British co-driver Scott Martin arrived at the overnight halt with a lead of 15.4 seconds. His closest challenger is Swiss driver Olivier Burri (Citroen DS3R5).
Breen was quickest on the qualifying stage and continued the trend on the opening 8-82km stage where he was 0.6 of a second faster than the Citroen DS3 R5 of Olivier Burri.
Francois Delecour (Porsche 997 GT3) was 0.9 of a second behind in third. It was a bad start for French ace Bryan Bouffier, who was forced out when his Peugeot 208 T16 hit a wall. He was credited with the fifth fastest time.
Breen reckoned his Peugeot 208 T16 lacked grip towards the stage finish, yet, he was still quickest on SS2 to move 6.2 seconds ahead of Burri as Alex Lukyanuk (Ford Fiesta R5), 10th on the opening stage, moved third, 15.7 seconds adrift of Breen.
On the day’s final stage Breen topped the timesheets once more to extend his lead. Burri retained second and Delecour inherited third when Lukyanuk got a 20-second penalty. There are seven stages today and another seven in tomorrow’s final leg .
Meanwhile, Derek Tohill will debut an OlsbergsMSE- built Ford Fiesta Supercar in Mondello Park on Sunday in the seventh round of the Irish Rallycross Championship.
The debut comes ahead of a full programme of events in the FIA European Rallycross Championship next season.
Last year’s champion Thomas O’Raftery (Ford Fiesta ST) and Geoffrey Dolan (Opel Astra) are also in the Supercar class.
Elsewhere, multiple motorcycle champion Brian McCormack on Sunday will make his rallycross debut in the new Patch Tyre Equipment/Naas Court Hotel-backed Fiesta championship.
The Irish Examiner understands the Tarmac Rally Organisers Association are to lose their seat on the Rallies Committee and will be replaced by a representative from the Technical Advisory Group. The change will occur in January.
The Carrick on Suir Motor Club host their annual Rallysprint at the Waterford Airport Industrial Park on Sunday.
On Sunday’s event Cashel’s Pat O’Connell (Mitsubishi Evo IX) is one of the principal entries along with Waterford’s Eddie Power (Toyota Corolla WRC), James Coleman (Escort) and Keith Power (Renault Clio S1600). In the Buggy class, Joe McHale is the main entry with Padraig McHale, James Cassidy and Peter Brennan. Also on Sunday, the Cork 4x4 Trial is at Rockgrove, Coachford.
Rallye du Valais (Round 10, European Rally Championship) Switzerland:
1. C. Breen/S. Martin Scott (Peugeot 208 T16) 21m. 05.8s; 2. O. Burri/N. Klinger ( Citroen DS3 S2000) 21m. 21.2s; 3. F. Delecour/S. De Castelli (Porsche 997 GT3) 21m. 46.3s; 4. A. Lukyanuk/A. Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5) 21m. 48.7s; 5. M. Jakes/J. Novak (Citroen DS3 R5) 21m. 49.6s; 6. P. Perroud/M. Beuret (Ford Fiesta R5) 21m. 49.7s.
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