ON THE PACE OF THE LEADERS
44E WALES RALLY GB, 4-7 OCTOBER 2018
After Craig Breen spent long periods fighting for a podium spot, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT come away from Wales with the satisfaction of having seen the C3 WRC prove it is competitive once again, on a surface where you need to adapt to the constantly changing levels of grip.
Wales Rally GB is fairly unusual for a gravel event: for once, due to the saturated state of the ground, it is invariably preferable to start high up the running order before the roads turn into a mudbath. Running tenth and eleventh on the road respectively throughout Friday, i.e. the last of the WRCs, Mads Østberg and Craig Breen were therefore by no means at an advantage. However, armed with confidence from the traction and handling of his C3 WRC, Breen managed nonetheless to pull off the impressive feat of staying in touch with the leaders, ending the day within 13s of the fourth-placed driver. Østberg, who struggled slightly more with the conditions, finished day one eighth overall. Craig Breen confirmed his very good form on Saturday by closing to within two seconds of the podium by the end of the leg, after having set a couple of second fastest times in the afternoon (SS15 and SS18). Mads Østberg completed a strong team performance as he also fought back strongly to end the day in fifth place, claiming a stage win and setting an impressive series of three consecutive second fastest times (SS12, SS13 and SS14) in the process. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT drivers were clearly determined to get – and stay – among the frontrunners right to the end! They therefore went on the attack early on Sunday morning, with the roads still incredibly slippery. Unfortunately, a minor mistake meant Breen dropped out of contention for a podium finish, but he held on to secure a strong fourth place. Mads Østberg, who also had a spin in his C3 WRC, had to settle for eighth overall.