Craig Breen Rallying: Rally of the Lakes Event Report
Craig Breen returned to form over the weekend with a confidence building third place overall at the Rally of the Lakes. His second podium of the year in the championship and the smile returned to the face of the Waterford driver as he got back in the groove in Killarney.
The ambition of the Ford Fiesta S2000 crew was to rebuild confidence after their accident at the Circuit of Ireland and after a controlled drive they were rewarded with third overall and a fifteen point’s haul, lifting them to third place in the Citroen Irish Tarmac standings. At the finish ramp outside the Gleneagle Hotel headquarters Craig stated “I know I must sound like a broken record but we were very disheartened after our Circuit accident and we set out here this weekend to rebuild our confidence. The conditions yesterday were very testing and tyre choice was unbelievably hard, so a cautious approach was the order of the day. The highlight of the weekend definitely came today by setting the fastest time on the second run over Caragh Lake. This result puts us back on track in the championship and it’s great to get the self-belief back and we can now look ahead to the next event”.
The fourteen stage event started on Saturday morning with the day’s stages based between Killarney and Millstreet. As Craig entered service after stage two he was in seventh place overall and reported “The car was going well but both stages were very wet and I was on a cautious pace”. By the end of stage five the crew were up to sixth and Craig said “I’m happy enough but I certainly don’t want to bend the car”.
Molls Gap completed the opening day’s action and Craig set the pace of the Group N field setting 8:54.0 over the famous stage. With the crews returning to Killarney for the over night halt Craig and Gareth were in fifth overall 2:21.9 down on rally leader Tim McNulty.
Shanera and Caragh Lake got proceedings under way on Sunday morning and the weather was the hot topic again, Shanera remained dry but Caragh Lake was wet so patience was called for. In service after stage nine Craig was still in fifth and only needed adjustments to his brakes. The next drama was to unfold on stage twelve when rally leader Tim McNulty retired with gearbox failure, this elevated Craig to fourth with only two stages remaining. Stage thirteen was the second time over Caragh Lake and was a lucky thirteen for Craig as he set fastest time. On to the last stage and Craig was now in fourth and trailing Alastair Fisher by forty three second but on that final run over the Rockfield stage Fisher damaged a rear wheel and dropped over a minute. A consequence of this was Craig leapfrogged Fisher and claimed third place on the podium.
The reward for his third place finish was twelve points and three bonus points for the first non World Rally Car to finish. Craig now stands third in the championship on thirty points.
After three weeks of intense competition Craig now has a break of four weeks until his next outing in the BRC at the Jim Clark International Rally in Edinburgh in Scotland.