As Rally Portugal begins in earnest today, Craig Breen scarcely needs reminding that he is the only driver from within the top echelon of the World Rally Championship yet to win a round of the series.
Second place in Rally Sweden earlier this year is his best result, unfortunately, due to Citroen’s arrangement with nine-times World champion Sebastien Loeb, Breen missed Mexico and Corsica and so couldn’t build on that momentum. Fifth in Portugal last year, he is looking to be consistent to deliver victory.
“Last year we were fast, especially on the Friday, so much so that we weren’t far off ending the opening leg in the lead. We went pretty close in Argentina (last round) despite our lack of experience, but this time I want to produce that level from start to finish, avoid making any mistakes and turn all of that into a good result.”
Breen should make most of his road position today as he starts tenth. Portugal has special memories for his fellow Citroen pair, Dungannon’s Kris Meeke and Killarney’s Paul Nagle, who won two years ago despite a dramatic off-road trip through a car park. Meeke admitted: “As the stages are unchanged from last year, everyone has the pace notes and the same knowledge of the roads. It’s a rally that I really like and I have high hopes that, like in Argentina, I can show the progress that our C3 WRC has made on this surface.”
M-Sport’s Sebastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) leads the series by 10 points.
In the Junior WRC, Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award winner Derry’s Callum Devine (Ford Fiesta R2) aims to build on his opening round appearances in Sweden and Corsica to move up from fifth place.
Meanwhile, it appears the Carlow Motor Club has benefitted from agreeing to push its main event back a week that facilitated last week’s Irish Motorsport Support Fund event, Mondello 50. They have over 120 entries for Sunday’s event six-stage event that incorporates the popular Mk. 2 Challenge.
Carlow’s David Condell headlines the entry in an all-Escort top six that also features Tyrone duo Adrian Hetherington and Frank Kelly, Banteer’s Barry Meade, Kilkenny’s Enda O’Brien and Lisburn’s Wesley Patterson, all in Escorts.
The day’s first stage gets underway at 10.17am with the finish ramp celebrations at the Seven Oaks Hotel set for 4.00pm.
Fresh from their success in the ELMS last week, Cork racer Matt Griffin and his Liverpool-born team-mate Duncan Cameron turn their attention on Sunday’s second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Silverstone (3pm).
The three-hour race format is different to that in the WEC or ELMS campaigns with the emphasis on the bronze category driver — Cameron. Griffin is a gold-rated driver and can only drive for one third of the race duration. The Blarney born driver used all his experience to get the 488 to the chequered flag in the LMGTE category in Imola last week. On Sunday, his time at the wheel of the 650 brake horsepower AF Corse Ferrari F448 GT3 specification car will be crucial to a good result in the Pro-Am category.
Elsewhere, the British F4 Championship continues with the third series of three races this time at Thruxton where Cork’s Luca Allen (Manor Motorsport) will be aiming to get among the top points.
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