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FSTi: Breen wins in Finland
4 August 2009
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.
"I am very relieved to finish this rally," Anglade admitted. "It has not been my weekend. I have had so many problems and made so many mistakes, however as this is my first time in Finland I am very pleased to finish."
Further down the order, 2008 FSTi champion Emre Yurdakul was fourth, after a largely trouble-free event, followed by Ahmed Al Mansoori and Burcu Çetinkaya in fifth and sixth, both suffering offs on day two.
"I am pleased to finish fourth in the FSTi category," said Yurdakul. "It has not been the best weekend for us but I hope we can get better results some other time."
Of the rest, Bader Al Jabri and Majed Al Shamsi were seventh and eighth, whilst Denis Grodetskiy, who crashed into the barriers in the Killeri super special on Thursday night, retired for good on Friday due to radiator damage caused by a rock.
The six-round 2009 Fiesta SportTrophy International series now continues with the Rally de Espana at the end of September, before concluding on the Wales Rally GB, which runs from October 23-25.
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