Talented Irishman Craig Breen clinched his first ever FIA WRC Academy Cup win on the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, round four of the Pirelli-backed series, breaking Estonia's Egon Kaur's winning streak in the series.
Kaur headed to Germany having won the first three rounds of the season, all held on gravel, but on the first asphalt rally of the year, the 24 year old opted for a cautious approach in order to safeguard his championship advantage.
Taking the lead on the opening day of the Trier-based event was Spaniard Yeray Lemes, who coped best with mixed weather conditions. The tricky conditions made tyre strategy crucial for the Academy drivers, who benefitted from a tutorial session hosted by Pirelli senior engineers Matteo Braga prior to the weekend.
The second day, run in the woodland areas of the Saarland region and the concrete roads of the Baumholder military ranges, belonged to Breen. Lemes lost the lead after going off for nearly a minute on stage eighth, promoting Breen into a lead he never relinquished, winning by 15.1 seconds. Lemes took second ahead of Italian Andrea Crugnola, while Kaur took eighth to ensure he retains the series lead.
Pirelli's Racing Manager Mario Isola commented: “The first asphalt round of the season has resulted in an interesting reversal of some of the form that we saw earlier this year. Having struggled a little bit on gravel, the asphalt specialists came into their own on this event and we saw some excellent drives. But even the asphalt here is hardly typical of the asphalt seen on most events: the surface is extremely rough and dirty, making it hard for drivers to find a natural rhythm, and this wasn't helped by the weather conditions. Our tyres performed well throughout the rally in these tough conditions, and even more importantly, I think all the drivers learnt a lot here this weekend.”