Morale within the M-Sport Ford couldn’t have stooped much lower than it did on Sunday, August 21.
Craig Breen had already rolled it into a ditch the previous day, Gus Greensmith had made a mistake that cost him dear, and Adrien Fourmaux had just squandered the team’s only decent finish when he crashed out of fifth place.
And it was Breen’s third crash in as many rallies, having gone off in both Finland and Estonia beforehand. Things, then, were really rather miserable in the service park’s purple corner, especially in Breen’s camp.
On Acropolis Rally Greece, things have picked up for M-Sport. After the first day, Pumas are first and second with Sébastien Loeb joined by the surprise package of the day, Pierre-Louis Loubet.
There’s reason to be cheerful at M-Sport once more. Yet Breen has still had a difficult run of it – suffering a small fire (which team principal Richard Millener suspects was caused by some glue that just got hot) and then a puncture on SS4 which threw Breen out of fifth position.
Given he was the only driver to suffer a puncture on such a punishing leg of the World Rally Championship, Breen was genuinely unlucky.
“All these little things that happened, there’s not so much I can do to avoid them, to be honest with you,” he told DirtFish.
“Even the puncture today it was really… I don’t know how I’m the only one. It just seems to always be me.
“When we changed the puncture I tried to do it as quickly as I could because I was thinking that there was going to be a lot of people in the same situation, but in the end nope, just me.
“We just have to try and keep our head down, keep fighting and see what happens.”
Breen may well fight back to score some points, as he’s just over half a minute behind 1oth-placed Takamoto Katsuta. But that’s far from the pick-me-up that he desperately needs to turn a tide that threatens to drown him completely.
“It’s all I live for, it’s everything that I’ve wanted, and I came off the back of some of the best times and best results I’ve had coming into this season,” Breen explained.
“Even started well at Monte, but the whole thing has just fallen flat on its face. There’s only so much time, only so much you can keep the positivity.
“Of course I don’t give up, but it’s difficult to remain happy and enjoy the whole thing when it’s just sapping every bit of your soul when days like this happen.
Asked for his appraisal on Breen’s current predicament, M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson told DirtFish: “He’s in a difficult position at the minute.
“Obviously he feels that again he didn’t do anything wrong today and got a puncture. But it’s really down to Craig. He’s really got to knuckle down.
“As hard as it may be, he’s really got to get on with the job.”