CM – Cheered on, Craig Breen is making his way forward in Finland


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Sammy Hamill

Craig Breen made no secret of his desire to raise the curtain on the Hyundai chapter of his career by winning the Rally Finland.

And the two-time Circuit of Ireland- Winner from Waterford showed that this may not be a pipe dream and topped the list when the crews returned to the Jyväskylä service park at the end of the first stage last night.

Breen, who finished second in Estonia and Belgium, becomes not part of the Hyundai team for the last two world championship races in Spain and Italy his M-Sport-Ford in 2022.

He fought all day with his teammate Ott Tanak and shared the fastest stage times with the Estonian who won in Finland in the last two years, but for the Toyota team before he switched to Hyundai.

Breen was the fastest on two of the first six stages of the day, Tanak also the fastest on two, together with the To yota duo Takamoto Katsuta – who will be driven by Tyrones Aaron Johnston for the first time – and former Ulster rally winner Elfyn Evans.

It was Tanak who led most of the day before Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle , who came to his groundbreaking victory in Finland with Kris Meeke in 2016, took the lead on the last stage of the day as darkness fell.

« Amazing, » Breen summed up his day. “Always questioned what Finland would be like in the dark, now we have felt it.

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« Phwoar, absolutely amazing. My lamps weren’t 100% honestly, I have some work to do with them, but really amazing. What a day. Paul and I really enjoyed it. « 

Today he is about three seconds ahead of Tanak in the second stage, Evans is another three seconds behind in third place.

Toyota landed in fourth place with Esapekka Lappi, Another Circuit of Ireland-Finland winner, ahead of Kalle Rovanpera in fifth, also in a Toyota Yaris, and Thierry Neuville from Hyundai rounded off the top six.

The Belgian and the Toyota world champion Sebastien Ogier, who Both fighting for the 2021 title were already over half a minute behind Berne’s pace at the top.

Katsuta had dropped to eighth place just ahead of the Fords of Gus Greensmith (with Ballyclare co-driver Chris Patterson) and Adrian Fourmaux.

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