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Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT on the pace of the leaders

Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT on the pace of the leaders

08.10.2018: After Craig Breen spent long periods fighting for a podium spot, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT come away from Wales with the satisfaction of having seen the C3 WRC prove it is competitive once again, on a surface where you need to adapt to the constantly ch

After Craig Breen spent long periods fighting for a podium spot, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT come away from Wales with the satisfaction of having seen the C3 WRC prove it is competitive once again, on a surface where you need to adapt to the constantly changing levels of grip.





THE STORY OF THE RACE



Wales Rally GB is fairly unusual for a gravel event: for once, due to the saturated state of the ground, it is invariably preferable to start high up the running order before the roads turn into a mudbath. Running tenth and eleventh on the road respectively throughout Friday, i.e. the last of the WRCs, Mads Østberg and Craig Breen were therefore by no means at an advantage.



However, armed with confidence from the traction and handling of his C3 WRC, Breen managed nonetheless to pull off the impressive feat of staying in touch with the leaders, ending the day within 13s of the fourth-placed driver. Østberg, who struggled slightly more with the conditions, finished day one eighth overall.



Craig Breen confirmed his very good form on Saturday by closing to within two seconds of the podium by the end of the leg, after having set a couple of second fastest times in the afternoon (SS15 and SS18). Mads Østberg completed a strong team performance as he also fought back strongly to end the day in fifth place, claiming a stage win and setting an impressive series of three consecutive second fastest times (SS12, SS13 and SS14) in the process.



The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT drivers were clearly determined to get – and stay – among the frontrunners right to the end! They therefore went on the attack early on Sunday morning, with the roads still incredibly slippery.



Unfortunately, a minor mistake meant Breen dropped out of contention for a podium finish, but he held on to secure a strong fourth place. Mads Østberg, who also had a spin in his C3 WRC, had to settle for eighth overall.
 


HIGHLIGHTS



Having witnessed Craig Breen's performance at first hand this weekend, Thomas Breton, his race engineer, analysed the way in which the Irishman managed to stay in touch with the leaders on Friday (sixth, 48.8s off the pace), despite a less than ideal road position (11th), before going on the attack on Saturday…





"Craig was very motived and relaxed at the start of the rally, focused purely on driving. Pretty quickly, he found that he was relatively close to the pace, without forcing it. He therefore realised that if he picked up his speed a little bit, he could really do something here. It's a rally that he knows better than some of the others and to be honest, he's just pretty good when the conditions are consistent like they were here, even if they're very tricky!




He never lost faith either, even when he set a time that wasn't quite so good, because he tended to know why. Having said that, he has been stronger mentally for the last few rounds, but unfortunately that hasn't been reflected in his results, because there's always been something that has derailed his weekend.



I think it'll have done him the world of good to have been involved in a rally where he was fighting at the front. Since Rally Sweden, his hopes of achieving a strong points finish have often been dashed by minor incidents and disappointments on the Friday leg. This time, he can head for Spain in a more confident and relaxed mood!"



Citroen also photos


Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/citroen-total-abu-dhabi-wrt-pace-leaders---181762.html

08.10.2018 / MaP

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