World Rally Championship press release
Breen halves Kaur’s lead in FIA WRC Academy Cup at ADAC Rallye Deutschland
Pirelli Star Driver Craig Breen (IRE) and co-driver Gareth Roberts (GBR) defeated Yeray Lemes (ESP) in a tight finish to win the fourth round of the 2011 FIA WRC Academy Cup at ADAC Rallye Deutschland this weekend. Breen’s victory ends the seemingly impenetrable winning streak of Estonia’s Egon Kaur and makes him the second man to win a round of the new series for identically-prepared Ford Fiesta R2s running on Pirelli tyres. Breen walks away from ADAC Rallye Deutschland with 30 Cup points, including five bonus points for his stage wins, under the WRC Academy rule which gives drivers a bonus point for each stage win. The young Irishman’s haul makes a considerable dent in Kaur’s lead in the standings. Kaur, who finished the event eighth in the series, sees his advantage cut from 52 points to 26 with two of six rounds remaining.
I was really determined to win here after the second place in Finland.
The WRC Academy Cup was turned upside down this weekend as the crews took on their first Tarmac event of the season. It was the turn of the Tarmac specialists to prove what they could do and Lemes immediately took to the lead. However, the versatile Breen didn’t intend to let him get away without a fight, but with wins on all but one of the day’s five special stages, Lemes looked set to run away with the rally as he claimed a 32-second overnight lead over the young Irishman.
With Day Two dawning dry, hot and sunny, Lemes might have expected a fairly straightforward run to the win. But a mistake by the Spaniard on SS8, the second stage of the day, threw the Cup class wide open again. Lemes missed a junction and his 40-second lead over Breen at the start of the stage turned into a 16-second deficit. Having stolen the lead, Breen protected a narrow margin of under 20 seconds for most of the final day, refusing to succumb to any pressure as Lemes remounted a challenge for the victory.
With the battle for third place between Andrea Crugnola (ITA) and Jose Suárez (ESP), then over a minute behind Breen, it was essentially a two-man race with six stages to go. From SS9 to SS13, Lemes took three stage wins to Breen’s two, setting up their grandstand finish on the daunting, 34-kilometre Panzerplatte test. But Breen’s lead of just under 10 seconds proved more than enough as he defeated Lemes by five seconds on the last of the 14 special stages and stormed home 15.1 seconds ahead of his Spanish rival.
Pirelli Star Driver Crugnola claimed a strong third place after reclaiming the position from Suárez on SS9 and holding it until the finish. The Italian was very pleased with his effort after a largely incident-free rally on which several other drivers paid the price for pushing too hard. Suárez was delighted to finish fourth, his best result of the season so far, while another Pirelli Star Driver Jan Černý (CZE) came home fifth and was the only man besides Breen and Lemes to take a point for a winning a stage when he tore through SS7.
1st – CRAIG BREEN (IRE) – “It’s difficult to describe the feeling in words. I was really determined to win here after the second place in Finland. The car was absolutely perfect throughout the rally. To get a good haul of points was exactly what we wanted, but to win was even better, especially knowing we halved Egon [Kaur]’s lead. We’re looking forward to another Tarmac event now in France. I’m more than happy – I’m ecstatic!”
2nd – YERAY LEMES (ESP) – “The rally was fantastic for me and I enjoyed fighting with Breen very much. It’s wonderful to be on the podium, especially on my birthday! Now I must just wait for Rallye de France - Alsace and hope to win there.”
3rd – ANDREA CRUGNOLA (ITA) – “It was a difficult rally, but the fight with Suárez was amazing. I was absolutely flat out on the final stages. It feels great to get my first podium of the season. Now I can look forward to France and hope to do the same again!”