On his return to the FIA World Rally Championship at Rally Sweden, Hyundai Motorsport’s Craig Breen had a fantastic weekend as the Irishman led the event and went on to score a fantastic podium finish despite suffering a puncture during the weekend. Breen briefly dropped to third to allow his teammate Thierry Neuville to claim second, only for the Irishman to reclaim second overall following an issue for the Belgian.
Speaking following the action, Breen commented saying:
To be back battling at the front of the WRC has been absolutely brilliant. I’ve said many times this weekend that I’ve missed that feeling but to come back after a difficult period with a podium is unreal. It’s James’s first podium, as well, which is fantastic for him. We can be very proud of what we’ve achieved here in Sweden. Massive thanks to the team for putting their faith in us, and to James for a faultless job. I am over the moon to be back with this amazing team and car.”
Thierry Neuville scored his second podium finish of the season coming home in third place and speaking following the action he commented saying:
After a difficult Friday, in which we were one of the first on the road, I was not expecting this great result. Our preparations for the event were limited as I was sick for the pre-event test, so to come back to third place is incredible. It has been a strong rally for our team, with all three crews showing great performances and speed. With Craig/James taking second place and Esapekka/Janne grabbing five Power Stage points, there are excellent positives we can draw from the weekend.”
Esapekka Lappi commented on the rally saying:
There are many positives to take away from this weekend. We had good preparation for the rally and although the result wasn’t what we wanted; the pace was there. Second place would have been possible for us this weekend, so we need to be pleased with that, especially after what happened yesterday. We targeted the fastest time in the Power Stage. I didn’t think we had done enough, but in the end, we made it and gained some extra points. We need to build on this for Mexico, even if it will be an entirely different type of rally.
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul commented saying:
This is a great way for us to finish Rally Sweden, which has been eventful to say the least. We had a tricky start on Thursday, but then built great momentum from Friday onwards. We have scored 10 stage wins out of 18 that shows our team, car and crews have been very competitive. The turning point, unfortunately, was Saturday’s stage 13, where we lost the chance of a podium with EP through an incident that also slowed down Craig. We shifted EP’s strategy from that point to focus on the Power Stage, and it was brilliant to see that plan unfolding today with him taking maximum points. At the same time, we had an opportunity to try and move Thierry up the standings. We supported that strategy by electing to take a penalty for Craig. It didn’t work out as planned; the Gods of Speed decided otherwise and we completely respect that. We’re all still smiling, including Thierry who made a fantastic comeback. He was on the back foot from the start for lots of reasons, so to be back on the podium is a great story for him. Craig has just been mega all weekend, in terms of his speed and performance, but also his attitude in understanding the team situation. Overall, a tremendous team result.”