Puncture sucks the air out of Craig Breen’s Portuguese challenge

Waterford’s Craig Breen and his British co-driver Scott Martin had to be content with seventh place in the Vodafone Rally de Portugal, round six of the World Rally Championship.

Due to their misfortunes on Friday’s leg where punctures cost Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle the lead and relegated Breen from third, both ran as virtual road-sweepers on Saturday’s second leg. Unfortunately, Meeke turned slightly late into a fast left-hand corner and went off the road, rolling the Citroen C3 WRC into the trees. Although Meeke was taken to hospital for precautionary checks, he was discharged within a few hours with just some bruises. Yesterday, Breen maintained his seventh place all through the day’s five stages. He said: “Our puncture on Friday, when we were running third, meant we had to open the road on the next two days and from that point on, it was difficult to hope for a better outcome.”

Meanwhile, Belgian ace Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC) took victory to move 19 points ahead of Sebastien Ogier (Fiesta WRC) in the Drivers’ championship. The M-Sport Fiesta WRC of Welsh ace Elfyn Evans finished 40 seconds behind in second followed by his team mate Teemu Suninen, who was 7.3 seconds further behind. Billy Coleman award winner Callum Devine retired his Fiesta R2 on the final leg after clipping a bank and damaging the steering.

Meanwhile and after taking the lead on the second stage Cork’s Barry Meade (Ford Escort) took victory in the Carlow Rally. At the end of the six-stage event the Banteer driver was 10.8 seconds ahead of the Escort of Tyrone’s Frank Kelly with Kilkenny’s Enda O’Brien (Ford Escort) another 10.7 seconds adrift in third.

On the opening stage Vivian Hamill (Escort) led O’Brien by 3.6 seconds with Meade 1.2 seconds further behind in third. Top seed David Condell retired on the second stage after his Escort clouted a chicane bale. Meade moved in front as the Darrian T90 GTR’s of Donegal’s Kevin Gallagher and Maynooth’s Ian Barrett gave chase. Although Barrett closed the margin to 2.3 seconds on S.S. 3 a dominant Meade went 6.8 seconds clear of his rival a stage later as Kelly slotted into third. The wipers of Barrett’s Darrian failed on a wet final stage and any chance of reeling in Meade went awry, prior to the stage he had fallen 12.4 seconds behind. Kelly punched in the best stage on S.S. 6 to secure second while O’Brien, who had transmission woes netted third. Barrett eventually finished sixth.

Elsewhere and for the third week in succession Cork racer Matt Griffin was on the podium, yesterday and along with his AF Corse team mate Duncan Cameron, they took their Ferrari F488 GTE to third place in the Pro-Am Cup in the second round of the GT Series Endurance Cup at Silverstone. Meanwhile in Thruxton, at the British F4 Championship, Shanagarry racer Luca Allen finished eighth, eleventh and tenth in three races of round three of the campaign. In Bandon, Kilkenny’s Ian White (Mini Special) swept the boards in the Skibbereen & D.C.C. Autotest double header winning all 12 tests on both occasions.



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