Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Craig Breen launched his works career into its two year term in style at WRC Rallye Monte Carlo this weekend (Jan19th-22nd). While the World Rally Championship dawned a new era in car specification Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin once again used their tried and tested DS3 WRC on the opening round of the year.
The 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo officially got underway on Thursday evening. After setting off from Monaco’s Place du Casino, the crews were to contest two stages on their way to Gap. However, SS1 was cancelled after one of the competitors rolled their car midway through the stage. Unfortunately, a spectator was hit in the incident and later died despite the intervention of the emergency services. SS2 went ahead as normal, albeit slightly behind schedule. Craig and Scott made a promising start to their rally, recording their seventh fastest time, ahead of two new-generation World Rally Cars.
The second leg featured two loops of three stages, held in the Hautes-Alpes area. With two thirds of the stages covered in ice and snow, all of the crews decided to opt for studded tyres and despite the tricky conditions Craig and Scott were on top form in their previous generation WRC. They took fifth place from Dani Sordo on SS7 but wider cleaner roads saw them drop back down a place as well as taking a bit of scenic route on the final stage of the day.
Day three featured five stages which got underway with ”Lardier et Valenca” which was very narrow in places and had no room for error. Proving difficult for Craig due to his power deficit he pushed on. After the last service in Gap, the cars set off for Monaco. The conditions were extremely varied, with snow-covered, muddy, wet and dry roads. Despite competing in conditions that were less favorable for their previous generation car, Craig and Scott continued to impress by treating spectators to a ding-dong battle with Dani Sordo. When overall leader Thierry Neuville ran into problems, they claimed another place to move into fourth overall! Drama throughout the leader board on the final morning kept the whole rally on edge but trying his best, Craig and his underpowered DS3 was no match for the new class of WRC machine.
At the rally end Craig said “It’s been quite a good weekend. We’ve done some really good speed when the conditions were tricky. Bring on Sweden!”