A HIGHLY INSTRUCTIVE WEEKEND
Craig Breen and Scott Martin posted the second-highest number of fastest stage times (three) on their way to third place in Estonia where they successfully achieved their objective of preparing for the 2018 Rally Finland later this month (July 26-29).
This weekend's competitive action proved a big confidence booster for Craig Breen as he explored the limits on Rally Estonia's ultra-fast stages before heading to similar terrain when the 2018 World Rally Championship moves on to Finland at the end of July. The outing saw the Irishman go head to head with drivers representing two of the three other makes involved in the WRC and he ended up with the second-biggest stage wins haul (three fastest times) behind local star Ott Tänak. His performance suggests that the modifications introduced during the event to make the handling of his C3 WRC even better balanced and more precise paid dividends. Craig completed the opening test in second place and claimed his first fastest time on SS5. He was quickest again on SS8 before completing Leg 1 in a strong second place. Unfortunately, a time penalty for late arrival at a time control on Sunday caused him to drop a place, but he responded with the best effort on the first attempt at Prangli, the rally's longest stage (17.05km). In addition to the valuable data it collected, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT evaluated a variety of set-up options over the weekend, taking advantage of the full-scale dress rehearsal for Rally Finland to prepare calmly for the upcoming WRC clash.
WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Finland is a unique event which calls for a different set-up to the championship’s other gravel rounds. The point of contesting Rally Estonia, which visits similar terrain, was therefore to take advantage of the weekend's different stage profiles to work through a variety of options ahead of a bespoke Rally Finland test next week. Craig was generally around a tenth of a second per kilometre off the times of Tänak, who benefitted from better local knowledge and who will undoubtedly be one of our biggest threats in Finland. So I think we can say it was a successful exercise for us."
"It was a good weekend and we come away not only feeling very confident but also with some good data in the bank. We started well with a good set-up for Friday's shakedown and we gradually worked on that basic configuration to pick up pace as the rally progressed. I am very pleased with the work we achieved and I can’t wait to start fine-tuning the result when we begin our pre-Finland testing."