A two-minute road penalty cost Waterford’s Craig Breen (Peugeot 207 S2000) the overnight lead in the Rallye International du Valais in Switzerland, the final round of the European Rally Championship.
The Peugeot Rally Academy and his team-mate Jeremi Ancin both arrived too early at the check-in for the third stage, an unfortunate error by their respective co-drivers, Lara Vanneste and Olivier Vitrani.
On the opening stage, Breen and Ancian set identical times and were 4.3 seconds in front of the Subaru of Andreas Aigner. At the stage finish, the Waterford driver admitted that the presence of the Armco barrier, unnerved him.
Running out of sequence on the second test, Breen posted the best stage time and moved into 5.3 second lead over Ancian. On the day’s third and final stage he was sixth quickest but having clocked in too early, was penalised two minutes and dropped to 16th. Ancian, with a three minute road penalty plummeted to 28th overall. Their indiscretions promoted Andreas Aigner into the overnight lead - 3.7 seconds ahead of the Skoda Fabia S2000 of Esapekka Lappi. Local hero, Olivier Burri (Ford Fiesta S2000) is 18.6 seconds further behind in third.
Meanwhile, over 100 crews will contest Sunday’s Banna Beach Hotel Kerry Rally.
The four stage event will decide the outcome of the equally popular regional series, the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship. Monaghan’s Shane Maguire, in his Group N Subaru, who won the series in 2009, is favourite to recapture the crown where his only rivals are Clare’s Alan O’Callaghan (Subaru) and Limerick’s Ed Synan (Ford Escort), in respective terms, they are 12 and 20 points adrift. Local hero Mike Quinn (Escort) heads the entry and his battle with Limerick’s Ed O’Callaghan also in an Escort, should be very intense. Others, like Meath’s Pat Donegan (Ford Escort) and Monaghan’s Jim McKenna (Ford Escort) may fancy their chances should the top two slip up. The top 10 also features Cavan’s Stephen McCann (Mitsubishi), Cork’s David Murphy and Killarney’s Charlie Hickey. The first car away from the Banna Beach Resort is at 11.37am with the first stage at 12.43pm. The event finishes at 4.15pm.
Cork pair, Owen Murphy/James O’Brien compete in the Roger Albert Clark Rally that begins in Pickering this evening. They will campaign the ex-Russell Brookes/Andrews Heat for Hire Sunbeam Lotus owned by Waterford man John Leahy.
The car has been rebuilt for the rally and Murphy (26) will have Peter Scott as team manager for the event where the Ovens driver has the support of Hankook Tyres and information management company, Zutec Technologies Limited. Stefaan Stouf (Ford Escort RS1600) is the top seed with British driver, Steve Perez (Lancia Stratos) the only other driver in the top 10 - apart from Murphy – that will be driving a car other than a Ford Escort.
Elsewhere, the National Navigation Trial Championship continues tomorrow night with the Drumlin Navigation Trial at Tyholland, County Monaghan with the first car away at 9.00pm.
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