Kevin Abbring and Craig Breen wrote first pages of what promises to be a successful rally career of the latest Peugeot Sport built and developed rally car, the 208 T16. Peugeot’s response to the growing and obviously popular R5 category finally debuted last week in round three of the 2014 European Rally Championship, Acropolis Rally. The famous Greek event is no longer a part of World Rally Championship list of events, but despite that Acropolis is still going strong and keeping the tradition alive. It was actually quite epic for Peugeot’s latest invention to make its first appearance on the legendary stages of the Acropolis Rally – I don’t believe for one second this was a coincidence.
Peugeot Sport’s official Acropolis Rally report follows.
30 years of history
In 1984, Peugeot claimed a landmark victory on the second stage of the Tour de Corse, with Ari Vatanen in the 205 T16! Three decades later, the Peugeot Rally Academy’s Kevin Abbring marked the first international appearance of the new 208 T16 with the fastest time on… SS2. It was a case of history repeating itself, but it was only the beginning of the new R5 car’s adventure on the legendary Acropolis Rally which it went on to win outright!
The mixed-surface format made the Greek round one of the most complex of the year, and a combination of rain and dry weather only added to the challenge that awaited the Peugeot pair.
A first for Craig Breen, the 208 T16 and the Peugeot Rally Academy!
Ireland’s Craig Breen, who is co-driven by Scott Martin, contributed to the 208T16’s development, so he was as aware as anybody how much the new car represented a serious trump card as competitors lined up for the start of the notorious Acropolis Rally. He went on to claim four stages (SS3, SS6, SS7 and SS11) and eased ahead on SS6 following the retirement of his team-mate Kevin Abbring. After that, a determined drive saw him overcome a half-spin to ward off pressure from B. Bouffier and win by a margin of 8.1s. Fiesta R5 driver K. Kajetanowicz was third, more than 40 seconds behind.
Not only did the result bring Breen the first major international victory of his career, but it was also the first win for the Peugeot Rally Academy and the 208 T16!
Craig Breen has been awarded the Colin McRae Flat out Trophy.
Next weekend, Breen and the 208 T16 will be in Ireland to contest a round of the country’s national championship where they will no doubt receive a hero’s welcome ahead of mid-April’s Circuit of Ireland, the next round of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Kevin Abbring: early leader in Greece in the 208 T16
Although victory in Greece ended up in the hands of Craig Breen, round three of the 2014 ERC saw Kevin Abbring impress on his first appearance in the colours of the Peugeot Rally Academy. His prize for winning the 2013 208 Rally Cup was a six-round ERC programme in 2014 in the 208T16, and the Dutchman hit the ground running to reveal the new car’s fantastic potential. Along with co-driver Sebastian Marschal, he posted the fastest time on SS2 to appear at the top of the leaderboard, and they were fastest again on SS4 before being eliminated by a holed radiator. Judging by their showing on the Acropolis, there is every chance they will be top challengers again when the ERC moves on to Ireland next month.
Craig Breen: “I feel like I’m on top of the world! The 208 T16 turned out to be just as competitive on gravel as it was on asphalt. This is my first victory in an international championship and I am also very proud to have written the first page in the history of the 208T16. It’s a great result and a fitting tribute to the hard work put in by everyone not only at the Peugeot Rally Academy but also at Peugeot Sport. It was quite simply a perfect weekend.”
Kevin Abbring: “It was a pleasant surprise when I found myself in front with the 208 T16 after SS2. It was by no means a foregone conclusion because there were so many new parameters, including driving the car on asphalt and a new pace note system with a new co-driver. Okay, we didn’t reach the finish but the car has got real potential and I am very confident for the future. I can’t wait to be in Ireland.”