Azores ERC: Sousa leads after drama for Peugeot's Breen and Abbring

Portugal's Bernardo Sousa inherited the lead of Rally Azores on Friday evening after long-time leader Craig Breen was forced to retire and his Peugeot team-mate Kevin Abbring hit power steering problems

Azores ERC: Sousa leads after drama for Peugeot's Breen and Abbring

Breen, who had led the event since its first stage on Thursday, had just extended his lead to 6.5 seconds by winning stage nine with a four-second margin, but quickly pulled over after the in-control and dived under the bonnet of his 208 T16 to deal with a fire.

He briefly used a fire extinguisher, and spent the next few minutes on the phone to his team while working on the car, but its wiring loom was beyond repair.

Abbring inherited the lead on SS10, the famous 'volcano stage' of Sete Cidades, but his power steering failed in the closing miles, causing him to drop 23s. He would then lose the lead to Sousa on the final stage of a dramatic day two.

"I have never driven the car like this," said Abbring of his issues, which he tried to fix by the roadside. "If you make a small drift angle you can forget it."

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Ford Fiesta RRC driver Sousa will take a 6.3s lead over Abbring into the last day of the event on the mid-Atlantic island.

"I will try like hell to win this rally," said Sousa. "Of course, I'd like to be winning on the road, and not because of problems to the others. I have to be very smart now."

Vasily Gryazin finished the day in third place in his Sports Racing Technologies Ford as many of the fancied frontrunners fell by the wayside.

Leading positions after SS11: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Bernardo Sousa AT Ford 1h24m57.5s 2. Kevin Abbring Sainteloc Peugeot +6.3s 3. Vasily Gryazin SRT Ford +1m31.0s 4. Bruno Magalhaes Delta Peugeot +2m47.7s 5. Pedro Meireles Skoda +4m20.5s 6. Jean-Michel Raoux Munaretto Peugeot +4m31.3s 7. Adruzilo Lopes ARC Subaru +4m35.0s 8. Luis Rego Mitsubishi +4m42.0s 9. Ruben Rodrigues Mitsubishi +4m54.2s 10. Stephane Lefebvre Sainteloc Peugeot +5m57.2s 
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Portugal ERC: Craig Breen leads by narrow margin after minor damage

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Series ERC
Drivers Craig Breen
Author Charles Bradley
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