There was more disappointment on the stages for Irish WRC duo Craig Breen of Waterford and Kerry’s Paul Nagle as they crashed out of contention for the famed New Zealand Rally overnight.
he duo had led the event early on Friday morning and were still running in second position heading into the fifth stage, just 2.6 seconds behind Welsh driver Elfyn Evans. Alas that was as good as it got for the M-Sport Ford crew as they crashed out on a tight right-hander during the Whaanga Coast stage.
Breen and Nagle were able to recover and get going again, and finished the stage having dropped eighteen minutes, but clutch damage meant the Déise hot shoe was forced to retire between stages.
“I know it’s a famous place, I know I shouldn’t be making all these mistakes, but it’s f****** tough,” Breen commented after the incident.
His co-driver, Fossa man Paul Nagle, meanwhile told the respected Dirtfish rallying website that they had “just braked a fraction late” for the turn.
It was Breen and Nagle’s fourth significant off in the space of five rallies and came, interestingly, a corner which the legendary Colin McRae crashed at twenty years ago.
M-Sport team principal Richard Millener was understandably frustrated by the turn of events, especially as he acknowledged Breen’s fundamental pace.
“Yeah he proved that for the first three stages, in the lead this morning and there we had the opportunity with the stage drying to have another bit of an impact and I think you’re going to see now, as it dries, the gaps increasing a little bit and that would’ve given us a bit of comfort,” he told Dirtfish.
“It’s one thing doing it getting individual times, but it’s another thing finishing after three days, and it’s a mistake that Craig will remember for a long time and I’m sure he’ll be very upset with himself.”
The pair are expected to return to the stages on Saturday morning.