Words and photos by Sean Moriartty
A suspension issue has ended Craig Breen and Paul Nagle’s great run on the Friday section of the Safari Rally.
The Waterford/Kerry crew were driving a sensible rally – staying out of trouble and holding a solid sixth overall before it all went wrong on the day’s final stage.
They ended the previous stage – Geothermal 2 – in sixth place – exactly where they wanted to be as other drivers were hitting trouble.
“All okay – no issues at all. It’s difficult to find the balance of what’s fast and what’s not. Considering everything that’s happening, a couple of seconds isn’t going to make too much of a difference,2 said the Waterford man at the end of stage six.
However, in the second running of the 31.25km running of the Kedong stage, two separate incidents ended their run for today.
An early-stage puncture took longer to change as they could not jack the car up on the extremely soft fesh-fesh – the local sandy-like gravel road surface.
The Ford Puma crew were under strict team instructions to stop and change any puncture and not attempt to drive and risk further damage on the extremely rough roads
Later on the stage, a suspension component failed, forcing them to the right of the road and into a collection of big rocks and forcing them out of the rally for the day.
They will have to wait until the road opens to get the car back to the service park where M-Sport mechanics will get a chance to replace the offending wishbone.
If all goes to plan they will start Saturday’s section in ninth- place overall but some ten minutes behind the rally leader, Kalle Rovanperra
The Finn took the lead of the rally when early leader Sebastien Ogier got a puncture and stopped to change it.
It was a difficult day for M-Sport. Four of the team’s five entries hit trouble.
Both Sebastien Loeb and Adrian Fourmaux retired with mechanical trouble.
Gus Greensmith, although still going, lost several minutes with an off-road excursion this morning.
Only Jourdan Serididis, a privateer entrant, has stayed out of trouble and will Start the Saturday section in 11th place.
Aaron Johnson is the best of the Irish co-drivers in Kenya.
He guided the Toyota Yaris of Takamoto Katsuta to fourth overall, just 26.1 seconds behind Rovanperra
They were running as high as second overall but lost time in the same stage that ended Breen’s run.
The Japanese driver was able to shed more light on Craig’s incident too.
He said: “We had a lot of dust from Craig and in some corners, I couldn’t see anything. In a long straight, Craig had stopped and there were big massive rocks everywhere, so I had to almost stop there. I think I lost a lot of time from this, so hopefully, we can get something back.”
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