Craig Breen has won the SATA Rallye Açores, making it three FIA European Rally Championship victories in a row for the Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 driver.
Co-driven by Scott Martin, the Irishman had been in a close battle for the win with Kajetan Kajetanowicz, with both drivers leading three times. Kajto was 11.9s behind Breen with the final loop of three stages remaining, and felt he had to take a different tyre compound to Breen, regardless of his rival’s choice, if he was going to have a chance of victory. While Breen kept his hard Michelins on, the LOTOS Rally Team Fiesta R5 driver took soft Pirellis. The gamble didn’t pay off, and Breen was able to extend his lead to a healthy winning margin.
“I came to the Azores with one objective, and that was to win the rally,” said Breen. “I’ve got one extra year to prove I deserve to move forward in this sport, and I’m on top of the world at the moment. This weekend has been good for us. We have been fast when we needed to be fast and clever when we needed to be clever, so I’m chuffed to bits.”
Ricardo Moura suffered from brake pressure problems on the longer stages in his Ford Fiesta R5 and had to pump the brake pedal two or three times at each corner to slow down. It cost the seven-time Azorean rally champion a lot of time, and his first Rallye Açores victory still eludes him, as he finished third – but scores maximum points in the Portuguese championship.
Text and photo: www.fiaerc.com