16th Rally Deutschland, from 16 to 19 August
Despite a luckless weekend in Germany, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT once again showcased the qualities of its C3 WRC, claiming one stage win and setting several strong times.
THE STORY OF THE RACE
Having finished as runner-up in 2017 in Germany, the Citroën C3 WRC produced a high level of performance again this year, without however managing to turn its pace into a good result. It has to be said that Craig Breen, already hampered on Friday by his position down the running order (10th) with more mud and gravel dragged onto the line as the cars ahead completed the stages, was then one of the few WRC drivers to suffer a sudden heavy shower on SS3, costing him a good fifteen or so seconds. His misfortune left him eighth at the end of day one. Meanwhile, Mads Østberg ended the opening leg in eleventh place as he got to grips with the C3 WRC on tarmac, a surface on which he is less comfortable. He also had a spin on SS3 and a minor engine issue in the afternoon. Despite his difficulties, Craig Breen refused to lay down arms. He staged a fine comeback on Saturday, the most difficult leg of the weekend, with two runs on the Baumholder military base stage and its particularly bumpy concrete roads. His charge included a fine stage win (SS11) and several impressive times. He had in fact moved back up to sixth position and was putting the fifth-placed driver under pressure when unfortunately he made a mistake on the day’s final stage. He therefore dropped down to tenth overall, just behind the improving Mads Østberg. The Norwegian’s progress could be seen in his third place, tied with the future rally winner, on SS11. However, Sunday’s leg proved fatal for the Citroën driver as he went off on the day’s opening test. Meanwhile, Craig quickly regained the good feeling he had enjoyed in the car on Saturday to finish seventh. He produced a fine performance on the Power Stage, grabbing fourth place, just 4.2s behind the five-time world champion, as the battle raged between the driver’s world title contenders for the bonus points available.
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