The fourth round of the 2013 European Rally Championship was the Sata Rallye Açores which will be remembered for years to come for its appalling weather conditions. The three Peugeot Rally Academy crews did their best in the storm, with Craig Breen and Jérémi Ancian finishing second and fifth overall respectively, while Stéphane Lefebvre won the R2 class in his 208.
Craig Breen challenging for victory
After coming second in Latvia and in the Canary Islands, Craig Breen finished in the slipstream of the winner once again. This time, however, the Peugeot Rally Academy team leader spent much of the weekend battling directly with Kubica, Kopecky and Moura in the mixed-bag weather which threw rain, wind and fog at competitors. Breen/Nagle completed the first leg in fourth position but then moved up to second overall by the end of Day 2, just 16 seconds adrift of Kopecky. In his bid to clinch the victory, the Irishman gave it his very best effort on the last day, despite having no previous knowledge of the event and despite his rival’s superior experience. He succeeded in claiming a fastest stage time but eventually chose to settle for second spot, a little more than 30s behind the winner. Once again, however, he demonstrated his enormous potential, his ability to adapt to both the terrain and the weather, plus genuine speed, as illustrated by his stage win. In the championship standings, he is second overall ahead of May’s Tour de Corse and the return to asphalt.
Jérémi Ancian continues his ascension
Along with his co-driver Gilles De Turckheim, Jérémi Ancian celebrated his first gravel outing with the 207S2000 by producing a well-paced, consistent and faultless run which harvested a second-fastest time on SS11, He reached the finish in fifth place and the experience gained on the mid-Atlantic island will no doubt help him to mix it with the front-runners by the end of the season.
Portugal’s Bruno Magalhaes (4th) was another 207S2000 driver to produce a strong performance on the Sata Rallye Açores.
Stéphane Lefebvre: 1st in class R2, and second in the 2WD category
Having switched to ‘gravel’ mode since France’s Rallye des Causses, a round of the 208 Rally Cup France which he is contesting as part of his personal 2013 programme, Stéphane Lefebvre made a big mark on the weekend’s ERC clash in the Azores. He claimed 10 fastest stage times from 16 in the two-wheel drive class, but dropped valuable time when he was forced to stop on a stage to repair a broken driven belt. He bounced back, however, to conclude his second European championship event with victory in class R2 and second spot in the two-wheel drive category at the wheel of his 208.
[quote]Craig BREEN: “Okay, I ended up second again, but this time we were part of the fight up front and were able to challenge for victory on the last day. We finally lifted because Kopecky was too fast. He knew this event well and local knowledge is indispensable here, especially with the weather we had. Saintéloc did a great job and everyone was really fired up. It was an incredible rally.”[/quote]
[quote]Jérémi ANCIAN: “It took us a little time let ourselves go. I’m not confident in my pace notes, no doubt after by crash on last year’s Rallye du Var. And the weather conditions made this rally very complex indeed. I’m pleased, though, because we made it to the finish, and we even claimed a second-fastest stage time behind Kopecky. I still need to get to know the 207S2000 better. During the early part of the rally I drove it like a front-wheel drive car!”[/quote]
[quote]Stéphane LEFEBVRE: “That was tremendous fun! We showed that we are fast and I have to say that I enjoyed the conditions. I’m actually disappointed that some stages were cancelled! I was flat out in the fog. The corners just jump at you but I managed to find a great pace each time. The weekend was excellent experience.”[/quote]
Source: Peugeot Sport