Ireland's Craig Breen made a poignant return to World Rallying today in Finland on round five of the Super 2000 World Championship.
The rally is Breen's first event since the death of friend and co driver Gareth Roberts in Sicily in June.
Before the rally, Breen described the event as a new chapter in his career as he continued on in the hope of fulfilling his and the dream of Roberts to reach the top of the sport.
After the opening three stages Breen is placed fourth in SWRC and 18th overall but taking the start line of this rally had a lot more importance then any results that were achieved today or will be over the weekend.
On the opening stage (Koukunmaa 13.68km) this afternoon Breen slotted in at fourth, 8.9 seconds behind Championship leader Hayden Paddon who set the pace.
At the end Breen said: "I just needed to get through that stage, sad feeling. I have to thank everybody that has been behind me over the last few months for giving me the courage to get here."
Over the short “Jokimaa” Superspecial Stage 2 (2km) there was no change to the leaderboard and on the third and final test of the day one, Breen was just 6.6 seconds away from stage winner Esapekka Lappi (Finland) ending the day in fourth, 15.9 seconds from the SWRC leader Esapekka Lappi.
At the end of the stage Breen showed more emotion saying: “I can’t believe I’ve had the strength to finish this day. Six weeks ago I thought it was the end of a dream, I'm just happy to be here.”
Day two of the event is the longest of the rally with a total of nine special stages, with the opening Friday morning test scheduled to start at 07.42 am local time.