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Mission Accomplished for Breen and the 208T16 in Latvia

Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen had his intentions clearly declared as he set off for round two of the FIA European Rally Championship “Rally Liepāja” (6th-8th February) in Latvia. Because he had already finished in second position twice on the event before Craig was determined that himself and his co-driver Scott Martin would stand on the top step once again for the first time in almost twelve months. Their maiden ERC win on the Acropolis rally in March of last year was proving difficult to repeat but the now sorted reliability issues with the 208T16 and Craig’s experience in Latvia were to be the key ingredient on their third event this season.

After a positive pre-event practice Craig and Scott took to the short qualifying stage on Friday brimming with confidence. With temperatures higher than expected in the area the crews were faced with a mostly gravel three kilometre road on studded snow tyres and the Peugeot Rally Academy pair posted second fastest time, just 0.05 seconds off Russian driver Alexey Lukyanuk.

Using his previous experience on the event Craig chose to run fourteenth on the road for leg one. It was similar conditions to qualifying that greeted the drivers through the opening stage on Saturday morning and Craig again guided the Peugeot 208T16 through the slippery slush to finish a mere 0.7 seconds down on the fastest time. It was from that point on that Craig started to carve out his lead arriving at the mid-day service with a twenty one second advantage. As the rain started to fall the roads became even cleaner for the second pass through the near forty kilometre Kuldiga test and Craig stretched out his lead further to over twenty two seconds before tackling the final stage of the leg in the dark. It was on this stage the championship leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz slip off the road and suffer a broken wheel that forced him into retirement.

It was a more traditional start time for Sunday’s leg of six stages and the Peugeot Rally Academy crew knew as it was proving to be a rally of attrition they would have to pace themselves accordingly but not enough to lose concentration. Heavy snowfall and a spin on the opening stage reminded them of this but the time loss was so insignificant that the 208T16 still checked into service with one minute thirteen second in hand. Craig could only concentrate hard to finish without incident as he drove the final three stages, the car and crew never missed a beat and they took the rally win by just over one minute and forty seconds.

Craig takes away forty points and leaps into second position in the European Rally Championship standings where next up for the Peugeot Rally Academy crew is round three the “ERC Circuit of Ireland Rally” based in Belfast over Easter Weekend when Craig will be keen to impress on home turf.

You can keep up to date with Craig’s 2015 season by visiting www.craigbreen.com or www.peugeot-sport.com