Breen had trailed PG Andersson from Wednesday’s opening test but moved in front on the penultimate day when the Swede’s PROTON suffered an under-bonnet fire caused by a fuel leak, leaving the way clear for the Irishman to claim his maiden success in the WRC support category.
“I’m very, very happy,” said Breen, whose Ford Fiesta S2000 was co-driven by Briton Gareth Roberts. “We came here with the aim of getting as much experience as possible and get to the finish without making mistakes. Taking home the maximum 25 points on the first event is a fantastic way to start to the season but I’m not going to kid myself and celebrate too hard because PG had a big lead when he retired and I was the last man standing.”
There was also a first-time victory in the Production Car World Rally Championship when Pole Michal Kosciuszko brought home his Mitsubishi Lancer in a commanding first place over class rookie Louise Cook.
“It’s 25 points and that’s the important thing for us, nothing else matters,” said Kosciuszko. “I’m happy to be at finish after a very difficult and tricky rally. I know there will be more fighting during the season but it was important to be more clever here and to drive with my head, not with my heart.”