WRC A FULL 2016
Craig Breen remains fifth at Tour de Corse.
Contested on roads around Bastia, the second leg of the Tour de Corse saw Craig Breen and Scott Martin confirm yesterday’s fine start. In their first tarmac rally in a WRC, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT crew remained fifth overall at the end of day two. After making a fine start to the day by winning the opening stage, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were then forced to retire following a minor impact on SS6.
Tour de Corse – Day 2
Like the opening leg, the schedule featured two long stages, each contested twice: La Porta – Valle di Rostino (53.72km) and Novella – Pietralba (30.80km).
Having ended the first leg in eleventh overall after suffering a puncture on SS3, Kris Meeke began the day firing on all cylinders. The Northern Irishman bagged his first stage win of the 2016 Tour de Corse on SS5, a whopping 17 seconds ahead of the second-placed driver!
This breathtaking performance took him up into eighth position, but his fightback would prove to be short-lived. A few hundred metres after the start of SS6, an ill-judged pace note led to Kris running wide on a corner. He hit a tree, breaking the front right half-axle, and forcing the Abu Dhabi Total WRT driver to retire for the day.
From that point onwards, the hopes of the team rested solely with Craig Breen. Fourth and sixth on the morning’s stages, the Irishman held firm in fifth place, 16.9s behind Jari-Matti Latvala.
In the afternoon, Craig experienced his fair share of highs and lows. In the closing kilometres of SS7, he was slowed by a shower and ended the stage around forty seconds off the pacesetter. Latvala’s lead surged to over half a minute, but Craig was not prepared to leave it at that!
The especially difficult final stage of the day gave him the chance to show what he could do, as he set a brilliant third fastest time. Craig Breen ended the second leg 23.6 seconds behind the 2015 rally winner.
Tomorrow, the Tour de Corse concludes with just two stages. Whilst Craig Breen will be looking to secure a top-five result, Kris Meeke will rejoin under Rally2 rules. For the Briton, the aim will be to acquire as much experience as possible for next year’s event.
Craig Breen: “Once again, I’m very pleased how today’s leg went. The only really frustrating part of the day was at the end of SS7, when I got caught in the rain. Starting quite far back in the running order counted against me, because the rain just got heavier and heavier. I felt better after setting the third fastest time on the next stage and overall, it’s been a positive day. I don’t think I could ask for much more, really. I can feel that my confidence is growing as we get through more stages. I’ll try to finish the job tomorrow. Jari-Matti isn’t too far ahead, but I won’t be trying to go after him. I would be delighted to finish in the top five.”
Kris Meeke: “I had good pace on today’s first stage and set a very good time at the end. On the next test, I listened to the pace notes as we took the first proper corner… but they weren’t correct. During recce, I hadn’t noticed just how much the corner tightened. We hit a tree and that put an end to our day. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. On the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’, you need 10,000 correct pace notes and we didn’t have them on this occasion! In any event, I’m pleased to have had a good rhythm at this rally and I can’t wait to come back to Corsica next year. In the meantime, we’ll contest the last two stages tomorrow to get the experience.”
UNOFFICIAL STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo R WRC) 3:27:10.0
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +46.5
3. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (VW Polo R WRC) +1:08.0
4. Latvala / Anttila (VW Polo R WRC) +1:41.3
5. Breen / Martin (DS 3 WRC) +2:04.9
6. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:42.7
7. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:03.9
8. Camilli / Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:18.2
9. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:10.5
10. Evans / Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +5:47.0
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