Craig Breen put a brave face on a disappointing YPF Rally Argentina at which he spent more time on the sidelines than experiencing the south American roads.
Breen was competing outside Europe for the first time but bowed out of Friday’s action after only three stages. His Citroën C3 smashed into the same compression that team-mate Kris Meeke hit in the first pass through the Santa Rosa - San Agustin test.
The impact flung the car into the air and when it landed the gearbox had jammed in fifth gear. He limped to the finish but retirement was inevitable.
The French squad repaired the C3 in readiness for a Rally 2 return on Saturday, but in morning service an oil leak was discovered in the engine and he sat out the day.
The Irishman finally got back behind the wheel for Sunday’s three stages in El Condor and Giulio Cesare, setting a couple of top four times.
“It was tough, but I learned a lot from the recce and took good experience from Sunday’s stages so it wasn’t all bad,” Breen told wrc.com.
“I was just trying to do a fast recce on Sunday and make sure all the pace notes were fine and try to be in the best shape possible to come back next year. The speed was good in a couple of stages, so I’m quite pleased with that.”
The characteristics of Argentina’s tough gravel tracks provided an eye-opener.
“It’s so much rougher than what I’m used to. The stages on Friday especially were incredibly fast, and some on Saturday also. That was a bit of a surprise. Sunday’s stages were incredibly rough, a lot of big stones, ruts and rocks, so it’s all a new experience for me.
“Driving El Condor on Sunday was awesome. There were so many people, I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life. It was a pleasure to be able to drive it,” he said.