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Overnight leader Breen retires after Stage 4

The M-Sport-Ford driver started the day ahead of the event after winning Thursday night’s super special, and remained on the podium in the first two stages on Friday.

However, his hopes of battling for a third grandstand of the season crumbled on the penultimate stage of the morning loop as he sat fourth, 14.2 seconds behind rally leader Toyota. , Elfyn Evans.

Breen was pushing hard in Stage 4 but ran wide on a left turn which caused his Puma to run into the grass clearing area on the exit.

Unfortunately, Breen hit something solid in the underbrush that damaged his front suspension, leaving his Puma stuck in the bushes and impossible to recover.

The incident cut short his rally for the day, leaving the Irishman to salvage minor points from the remainder of the event.

Breen was touted as one of the favorites for victory in Estonia after finishing second in the previous two editions of the rally with Hyundai.

“He was pushing as hard as he could to stay with the top guys – I always thought this rally is one of those where if you don’t go over the limit then you’re not going to be on top of the standings,” said M-Sport team principal Richard Millener.

Craig Breen, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Photo by: M-Sport

“He was doing incredibly well and it was such a shame to see him slip off the road.

“He broke the front suspension, he hit a rock or hit something on the way out, that’s why he can’t continue.

“It’s pretty much the end of the rally for him in terms of competing for a lead position, which is a real shame.”

While Evans still leads Hyundai’s Ott Tanak and Toyota championship leader Kalle Rovanpera, Breen’s disappearance promoted Tanak’s teammate Thierry Neuville to fourth overall, while Esapekka Lappi climbed to fifth. despite a brake problem on his return to the third Toyota.

Adrien Fourmaux now leads M-Sport’s charge in sixth, while teammates Gus Greensmith and Pierre-Louis Loubet are eighth and ninth respectively.