Breen crashes out of Rally Japan

Craig Breen joined Dani Sordo on the retirement list as Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans share the rally lead


Craig Breen has become the latest casualty of Rally Japan, crashing out midway through SS4 as Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans moved into a joint rally lead.

Running finally got back underway on SS4 after SS2 was red flagged due to Dani Sordo’s fire, before SS3 was canceled completely.

But when the rally did get going again, Breen crashed into a barrier 5.5 miles onto the test, sending him into an immediate retirement.

Like with Sordo, it was Gus Greensmith who was first on the scene.

“Craig’s off the road but he’s OK – he went into a barrier,” said Greensmith.

“I’ve got a broken driveshaft so it’s not great for any of us really. It is what it is.”

But while there was drama for Breen, SS4 provided some serenity for Evans who beat Neuville to win the stage by 4.6 seconds, although Neuville could claim to have the same feeling as his Toyota rival.

“I struggled a bit” said Neuville.

“The visibility is so bad with the sun and the trees and I have no confidence in the front with lots of grip changes. Very tough but we are here.”

Evans’ stage victory means the pair go into the fifth stage of the rally joint leaders while Kalle Rovanperä is now third, seven tenths further back.

Ott Tänak is fourth, but he’s now 9.1s down on Evans after suffering with a transmission issue during the course of the stage.

Breen’s retirement has promoted Takamoto Katsuta to fifth, while Gus Greensmith is sixth, despite suffering with that broken driveshaft.

SS4 was then subsequently interrupted after the Rally1 cars had passed through.

No full stages have been completed yet in WRC2 as both of the two stages that ran on Friday morning were interrupted for the Rally2 cars. But there have already been major championship implications as Kajetan Kajetanowicz crashed out on SS2 on the exit of the tunnel before it was red flagged.

His title rival Emil Lindholm also stopped suddenly on SS4 before the test was halted, but the reason for why remains unclear.