It was the storming finish that Craig Breen didn’t want as weather conditions forced an early conclusion to the Acropolis Rally, denying him the opportunity to continue his bid to win the European Rally Championship.
The termination of the rally three stages earlier than anticipated due to torrential rainstorm in the Loutraki region saw leader, Polish ace Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Ford Fiesta R5) take victory and the ERC crown.
Saturday’s opening stage was cut from 43km to 24km as Kajetanowicz led Breen by 12.2 seconds. The day’s only other stage saw Breen in third at the overnight halt due to a mechanical problem with his Peugeot 208 T16. Yesterday, Breen made a terrific start and by S.S. 4 he led the rally and Kajetanowicz by 17.2 seconds. He increased his lead margin to 33.7 seconds on S.S. 5 with Kajetanowicz having to reverse at one point to get back on stage in the difficult conditions. Breen arrived at the end of S.S. 6. with the bonnet open and a cracked windscreen. The episode cost him the lead as Kajetanowicz went ten seconds in front.
Meanwhile, Donegal cousins Declan and Brian Boyle took their Ford Fiesta WRC to an easy win in the Donegal Harvest Rally based in Burt. After the day’s nine stages they were a minute and 35 seconds ahead of the Ford Escort of Cavan’s Gary Kiernan/Noel Tierney. Lisburn’s Wesley Patterson and his Donegal co-driver Johnny Baird (Ford Escort) were 4.5 seconds further behind.
With the pre-event withdrawal of Donagh Kelly it was left to former national champion Peadar Hurson to take the challenge to Boyle. The Warrenpoint driver didn’t disappoint and led the Donegal man through the opening stage by a three second margin. Monaghan’s Gary McPhillips (Ford Escort) was six seconds further behind followed by Patterson and the Skoda Fabia S2000 of Joe McGonigle. Kiernan, the latest bi-monthly nominee for the 2015 Billy Coleman award, was down in eighth spot.
Although Hurson was concerned by a slipping clutch he continued to set the best times and extended his lead to 11.9 seconds by the end of the opening loop. But his rally ended on S.S. 4, at the stage start he lost time with the clutch issue as he couldn’t get off the line. Then, about a mile into the stage the downshift was problematic and couldn’t get the right gear to negotiate a bend and his Subaru careered up a bank. Although he got going again, he withdrew at the next available junction. Inheriting the lead Boyle led McPhillips by 38.2 seconds. By the completion of the second loop the margin was a minute and 12.4 seconds with McGonigle displacing McPhillips for second. Boyle cruised to victory but problems for McGonigle and McPhillips saw Kiernan net the runner-up spot.
In Scotland, the Tour of Mull was cancelled following a fatality in Saturday’s second stage. Co-driver Andrew Mort (47) was pronounced dead at the scene after an accident.
Scottish driver Gordon Shedden (Honda) clinched the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on the final race of the day coming from 19th on the grid to claim fourth and the title.
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