Craig Breen wasn’t shy about his hopes ahead of his fifth outing this year driving the Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen DS3 WRC on the RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada 2016 which took place from October the 13th to 16th. Spurred on by signing a contract with Citroen Racing for the next two seasons it essentially meant the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team driver could push to his limit and at the same time relax without the pressure of not knowing would his future career be at stake with every kilometre he drove.
Hosted in the Costa Daurada holiday resort of Salou the event got underway with the traditional Thursday morning shakedown stage where Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin posted the twelfth fastest time over three runs of a short mixed surface test. After a ceremonial start on the promenade in Salou the crews headed up north to a tricky spectator friendly stage around the streets of a rainy Barcelona before the weekend got properly underway.
As often is the case with gravel stages the cars running down the order can be hampered by the weather, the condition of road surfaces or indeed a combination of the two so Friday morning when the crews woke again to rain it was far from the perfect scenario. Eighth fastest was the most Craig could manage with his team-mate Kris Meeke following behind him. The pair swapped places on the two following stages but it was Craig’s consistency that saw the number eight Citroen arrive into the evening service halt in eighth place overall and eager to be converted to asphalt specification for the remaining stages. The much wished for dry Saturday turned into a disaster for Craig when a high speed spin left him with a broken front drive shaft and no choice but to limp it through two more stages in rear wheel drive only.
Temporary repairs enroute gained Craig extra penalties for lateness to add to his woes and saw him as far back as 15th overall before the mid-day service. The car fully repaired by the PH Sport mechanics for the second loop Craig and Scott pushed and eventually took thirteenth spot at the end of the second day. Out of the early Sunday morning darkness came the bright lights and glowing brakes of the #8 Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen to post sixth fastest time on all of the four final stages and it even had time for a big wave to the crowds at the final roundabout of the final stage. Craig and Scott went on to complete the rally in tenth place. Craig saying at the finish, “I’m really pleased with how the weekend has gone – apart from the problems obviously. We’ve showed good speed and that’s good for the future.”
1.Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo R WRC) 3:13:03.6
- Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +15.6
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.0
- Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:27.8
- Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:24.4
- Tänak / Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:24.9
- Abbring / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +7:31.3
- Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:05.1
- Tidemand / Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:20.4
- Breen / Martin (DS 3 WRC) +9:57.1
… 12. Al Qassimi / Patterson (DS 3 WRC) +19:24.5