At The Thursday morning shakedown of Rally Sweden the Citroën C3 WRCs produced an assured performance, with Craig Breen and Kris Meeke setting the second and fourth fastest times through the 7.23km test. The road was covered with a good layer of ice, but the lack of snow left no room whatsoever for mistakes! Since the tyres used during the shakedown are now included in the overall allocation for the rally, the Citroën crews chose to stick to the three mandatory runs.
Everything was ready for the ceremonial start, which was held that evening in Karlstad and afterwards to a 1.9km-long super special stage held at the Karlstad racecourse. Craig admitted to taking it easy so as not to take unnecessary risks early in the rally.
After returning to Torsby to spend the night in parc ferme, the cars set off early Friday morning to tackle an opening loop of three stages: Röjden, Hof-Finnskog and Svullyra. Ninth after SS2, Craig gained another place on the next stage. In the afternoon, the itinerary included a second run on these three stages, before the leg concluded with a run on the Torsby stage. He remained eighth until the end of the day, despite a few incidents, such as breaking a front damper when he hit a rock (SS4) and a spin (SS6).
Saturday’s leg once again featured seven timed stages, covering a total of 125km. Tens of thousands of spectators gathered at Colin’s Crest, the iconic jump on the Vårgasen stage. Craig and Scott were determined to have an error-free day and started the leg well as they moved up into seventh position on SS7. Gradually improving their pace, the crew’s consistency paid off over the course of the afternoon. Drama on the final stage of the day, when rally leader Thierry Neuville took a wheel off meant they ended the day in the top five of the overall standings!
The final leg of Rally Sweden resembled something of a sprint finish, with three stages covering less than 60km. Following two runs on Likenäs, the event concluded with Torsby 2, also serving as the Power Stage. After dragging themselves into the top 5 on day two, Craig and Scott’s aim was to hold onto their position. They set about the job in hand by adopting a balanced approach, between going for speed and avoiding taking risks. At the end of the Power Stage, Craig could take some satisfaction from meeting the target set for him by the team before the start. Thanks to two fifth-place finishes in Monte-Carlo and here in Sweden, the Irishman stays in the same position in the Drivers’ World Championship.
CRAIG BREEN “I’m pleased to have made it to the finish and to score my first points for a factory team! It was a pretty cool weekend, even though we weren’t always completely happy with our performance level. We have to move on. The Citroën C3 WRC has so much potential and I can’t wait to be driving it again!”