Irishman Craig Breen leads the SATA Rallye Azores, round four of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship, after the opening three stages on Thursday. The Peugeot 208 T16 driver is just 1.4 seconds ahead of his championship rival Kajetan Kajetanowicz.
After setting fastest time in the qualifying stage earlier in the day Breen elected to start the event 15th on the road. However it was Kajetanowicz that set the pace on stage one in his Ford Fiesta R5, the LOTOS Racing Team driver went fastest 1.5 seconds ahead of Portugal’s Ricardo Moura with Breen a further 1.5 seconds behind in third.
Breen set the fastest time on the second test to close the gap to the lead to 1.8 seconds but it was on the run through the 12km stage three that the Irishman snatched the lead. Breen won the test by 3.2 seconds and leapfrogged Kajetanowicz and Moura in the process. Josh Moffett and Bruno Magalhaes round out the top five.
In ERC 2 Dominykas Butvilas won all three stages to lead David Botka by just 2.6 seconds at the end of the opening leg.
In the ERC Junior Rally Mattias Adielsson set the early pace on stage one but dropped back on stage two. Championship leader Emil Bergkvist won the second test to take the lead but he was overhauled by Chris Ingram and Ralfs Sirmacis on the third test, they are both tied for he lead after the opening leg.
Leg two will see crews tackle eight more stages including the famous 29km Sete Cidades stage which will be run twice.