WRC A FULL 2016
A thrilling battle between Lefebvre and Breen!.
Under the watchful gaze of many WRC observers, the head-to-head battle between the Abu Dhabi Total WRT crews more than lived up to expectations! Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau ended the opening leg of Rally Poland in seventh position, just 1.7s ahead of Craig Breen and Scott Martin.
Rally Poland – Day 1
1 July 2016
After the action started on Thursday evening with the Mikolajki super special stage, Rally Poland moved into “flat out” mode today, with nine ultra-quick stages contested in the woods and fields of the Warmia-Mazury region.
Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen adopted a strong pace from the word go. The Frenchman was seventh on SS2, whilst the Irishman finished tenth. Within two stages, Breen had moved past Camilli and Østberg to slot in behind his team-mate. The two talented young Abu Dhabi Total WRT drivers headed for the midday service in seventh and eighth positions, with only 3.6s between them.
On the second run on Chmielewo (SS6), Stéphane Lefebvre moved up into sixth place and ahead of Latvala. Craig Breen then set an impressive third fastest time on Wieliczki (SS7) to overtake his team-mate. With the ride height too low to negotiate the deep ruts that had formed on this stage, the Frenchman adjusted the set-up and then looked to respond to the challenge set by his Irish team-mate.
The change seemed to work, since at the end of Swietajno (SS8), the two drivers had set the same time! Despite driving with a slow puncture, Lefebvre managed to move back ahead of his team-mate on Stare Juchy (SS9), the last “real” timed stage of the day. The competitors ended Friday’s leg with another run on the Mikolajki super special stage. In spite of a minor impact a few metres from the finish, Breen remained in touch with his team-mate: the two men ended the leg with just 1.7 seconds between them!
Saturday’s leg will be even longer still. Over a total of 124km, the seven stages that make up day two will be contested with no service period. Only one tyre change – organised at Goldap around midday – will give the crews a chance to catch their breath.
Stéphane Lefebvre (#7): “Overall, it’s been a good day. We set some decent times and had a good scrap with Craig [Breen] and also Jari-Matti [Latvala], with just a few tenths between us. We even managed to set the same time on a 22 kilometre-long stage! It’s really good fun to be able to fight with each other like that. I’m just a bit disappointed to have lost time on SS7. We didn’t make the right call on the ride height and the car kept scraping the ground in the ruts. We probably lost seven or eight seconds on that stage. And towards the end of the day, we lost a bit more time with the slow puncture. But that shouldn’t detract from what has been a very positive opening leg!”
Craig Breen (#8): “It was a near-perfect day for us. I’m just a bit disappointed to have damaged the car on the super special stage. I clipped a hay bale right at the finish and I can’t have lost more than a second! Apart from that, the result is better than I had hoped for. I thought I would gain experience as we went through the stages, but we seemed to be on the pace straight away. The car was doing what I wanted it to do, it was just a joy to drive. I am also pleased to have improved significantly between the two runs. For the time being, the situation is similar to the one we had at Rally Sweden. We’re looking forward to continuing the fight tomorrow!”
1. Tanak / Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) 1:01:23.0
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (VW Polo R WRC) +4.2
3. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10.2
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo R WRC) +16.3
5. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +20.4
6. Latvala / Anttila (VW Polo R WRC) +36.6
7. Lefebvre / Moreau (DS 3 WRC) +39.4
8. Breen / Martin (DS 3 WRC) +41.1
9. Camilli / Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +58.6
10. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:06.7
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