Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen had his sights set high this weekend when he brought his SAINTéLOC Racing run Peugeot 208T16 to WRC Rally Finland, however the Waterford man failed to finish.
Unlike his FIA European championship campaign where Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin hold second place in the championship standings after three back-to-back victories this season, Breen’s 2015 WRC2 campaign has been slow to start.
This was only their third World Rally Championship event this year and with a second place finish in Monte Carlo, along with a non-finish in Portugal, Finland was a real missed chance to catch up in the points standings.
Disaster struck for Breen on his third run through the short event shakedown stage, where drivers get a last chance to set up the car and test their own pace, when a front tyre detached from the rim in the middle of a bend causing the 208T16 to roll heavily.
With Breen and Martin uninjured the race was on to get the car fit for competition as the first stage was just hours away.
The SAINTéLOC mechanics put the car back together piece by piece until it was almost new and on the road to the SS1 Harju City stage.
Competition was so tight on the opening 2.27km spectator special that the top time was shared by two drivers, with Breen bedding himself back in just 3.7 seconds down.
As the first full day of rallying dawned the cars headed out into the forest and some classic Finnish stages. From the start of SS2 it was clear that Breen would have to work hard for any victory as local driver Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand set the pace out in front.
Breen could only manage to keep in touch with his Scandinavian rivals through the following stages that included the iconic 34.39km Ouninpohja stage and it was clear from his stage end interviews he was nursing a problem.
With no service at all during the day there was only a regroup for fuel and tyres at the mid-day point and it was there that Breen was forced to retire due to what transpired to be an oil pressure issue with the 208T16’s engine.