FSTi: Breen pushes hard for Finland win

Craig Breen put in a flawless performance on the Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend to take the victory in the Fiesta SportTrophy International class and put himself right back into contention for the title.

Breen, who returned to the series after a two-event absence, did a superb job to take the honours as he came under constant pressure from championship newcomer and fast Finn Jussi Kumpumäki.

In the end, despite a brush with a barrier on SS12, which caused only minor cosmetic damage, the young Irishman won by just 20.1 seconds, finishing the event in 26th place overall.

The result moves him back up to second in the standings and closes the gap between the 21-year-old and championship leader Patrick Anglade.

"Competing against Jussi was sheer brilliance. It's the best rally I've ever done - we were both at ten-tenths all the time," Breen reflected. "His time was so close to mine on the long SS19 and I was absolutely on the limit. Jussi is extremely fast and I know I did well to beat him.

"But we did what we needed to do and I'm absolutely thrilled. The gap between Patrick and I is now 40 points, so I expect that we need to take wins in both Spain and Rally GB in order to seal the championship."

Kumpumäki meanwhile showed brilliant raw speed on his WRC debut, winning twelve stages to the nine notched up by Breen. However he lost around 30 seconds with two overshoots, one in SS3 and one in SS20, as well as losing another 15 seconds in SS13 when his engine cut out after a jump.

"It was a good battle and the car performed well in the end," said Kumpumäki. "This was my first time here at Rally Finland so I don't have enough experience in the stages. But I had good confidence."

Anglade was next up and took the final spot on the FSTi podium to hold onto his overall lead in the series. The German had incident packed event however, losing time with an excursion in SS6 and a roll in SS21. Luckily though, he was able to continue after he was helped back onto the road by some spectators. He eventually finished more than 6 minutes off the top two.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Craig Breen / Gareth Roberts. Rally Finland FSTi winners [Pic credit: FSTi / Ford]
Craig Breen / Gareth Roberts. Rally Finland FSTi winners [Pic credit: FSTi / Ford]
Teemu Suninen (FIN), Toyota Motorsport [Credit: WRC.com]
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Jerome Grosset-Janin - Albatec Peugeot
Jerome Grosset-Janin - Albatec Peugeot
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