Irishman Breen was embroiled in a close battle with Spaniard Yeray Lemes and prevailed by a mere 15.1s following a tense showdown on the Arena Panzerplatte stage this evening.
Breen began the 34.18-kilometre test 9.6s in front of Lemes. Having lost out on victory to Kaur on the last stage on the previous round in Finland, he was determined not to finish second again.
“That was absolutely incredible,” said Breen, part of the six-strong Pirelli Star Driver scheme, a joint initiative between the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, and the Italian tyre firm to back young talent. “I was absolutely on the limit and I have to thank Yeray for pushing me that hard. There was no way I was going to be beaten again so I went on maximum attack.”
Lemes started the final day with a lead of 36.2s over Breen but a mistake one kilometre into the second stage this morning cost him vital time. “I missed a left-hand junction and we couldn’t reverse onto the road because we were down from the road and the grass was wet,” said Lemes. “Then I lost third gear on stage 10.”
Kaur, the winner of the opening three rounds for the category for identical Ford Fiesta R2s, languished in eighth position at the finish in following tame showing, which culminated in an off-road moment on the final stage.
“It was at a right junction and I just slid off,” he said. “I tried to go through the ditch but there were solid items in the ditch. I had a puncture but changed it in the stage. I’m disappointed, this should not have happened.”
Italian Andrea Crugnola beat Jose Suarez for the final podium spot by 15 seconds after the Spaniard stalled and damaged his car’s gearbox when he went off on stage 10. “I tried by best but took no risks. I drove with safety in mind,” said Crugnola.
Jan Cerny took fifth with Fredrik Ahlin sixth. Sepp Wiegand, on a one-off outing in the WRC Academy, was seventh. Behind Kaur, Alastair Fisher’s recovery from his puncture on Friday’s final test brought him back to ninth although he could have challenged Wiegand had it not been for another deflation on the final stage. Timo van der Marel completed the top 10.
Miko-Ove Niinemae was 11th despite a scare prior to the first Panzerplatte stage. “The morning was OK, although I lost too much time on Panzerplatte because our jack broke so we couldn’t change the tyres before the stage like we’d planned. I lost all grip towards the end of the stage - it was like ice! It’s all been great experience for me though, so it will help me improve.”
After finishing 12th Sergey Karyakin said: “I’m still learning but I’m quite disappointed that I had no good stage times yet. I’m learning how the Tarmac drives and until I understand that I won’t be able to go quicker.”
Australians Brendan Reeves and Molly Taylor were 13th and 14th respectively.
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