Citroen Racing’s Craig Breen had a fantastic opening day at Rally Finland, round nine of the 2017 World Rally Championship season. The Irishman and co-driver Scott Martin ended the opening day in fourth place overall just 33s behind leader Esapekka Lappi.

Speaking following the opening day of the rally, Breen commented by saying:

It’s been a good day, even if everything wasn’t perfect. This morning, after a bit of a ‘big’ landing over a jump, I had the feeling that there was something wrong with the handling and it was getting worse as we progressed. The team did their magic in service and the C3 WRC they handed me back was like new, but I had a few minor problems on the second loop. My pace notes weren’t always perfect and I was a little too careful in places. Every tenth you give away is hard to get back, but there’s still a long way to go – we haven’t even reached halfway as yet.

Kris Meeke endured a tough day and speaking following the opening stages of the rally the Northern Irishman commented by saying:

Obviously, it wasn’t quite the day I was hoping for. I just couldn’t find the feeling that I had here last year when I won the rally. Despite our efforts and the work done in service, I couldn’t place the car like I wanted to and I was struggling to feel the grip. And clearly, it wasn’t ideal to contest the last few stages with the damaged steering.

Khalid Al Qassimi endured a tough day just like Meeke and speaking following the opening of the event he commented by saying:

It was a tough day, during which I lost a lot of time. I was constantly looking for traction and struggled to keep the car on the right line. We made a lot of changes to the set-up – the differential, the throttle, the springs – but I think there is still a lot we can improve.

Citroen Racing Team Principal Yves Matton commented by saying:

Overall, it has been a fairly positive opening leg. Throughout the day, Craig Breen managed to set times that were within a few tenths of the leading drivers and he tops the entirely unofficial ‘non-Finnish driver’ standings. That demonstrates the performance level of the Citroën C3 WRC and shows that the work undertaken in the last few months has been effective. Kris Meeke had a bit more difficulty in letting go and the minor impact with a rock forced him to lift off the throttle at the end of the day. In any event, he has driven intelligently and sensibly today. We can’t afford to let up tomorrow, because the second leg will bring further difficulties

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