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Meeke wins on rally return in Craig Breen’s honour

Kris Meeke has claimed victory at Rali Terras d’Aboboreira on his return to rallying, standing-in for the late Craig Breen in the Portuguese Rally Championship.

Kris Meeke, Team Hyundai Portugal

The five-time World Rally Championship rally winner was invited by the Hyundai Portugal squad to deputise for Breen, who lost his life in a Rally Croatia testing accident earlier this month.

Breen had been competing in the Portuguese national championship alongside his WRC commitments for the Hyundai factory team. The Irishman won the opening round in Fafe but crashed out of the following round in the Algarve this month.

Meeke, joined by co-driver Ola Floene, took up the vacant seat in the Hyundai Portugal squad driving an i20 N Rally2 car carrying a special livery, featuring the Irish flag in honour of his absent friend and former WRC team-mate Breen.

Competing in his first rally since last year’s Qatar International Rally, the 43-year-old claimed victory by 15.5s from WRC2 regular Marco Bulacia.

The Northern Irishman won seven of the nine gravel stages to hold off Bulacia to take an emotional victory, leading from start to finish.

“I tried, it is a long uphill in an R5 car and with these soft stages it sucks the power to the engine but I tried to be as clean as possible,” said Meeke after the final stage.

Kris Meeke, Team Hyundai Portugal

Kris Meeke, Team Hyundai Portugal

Photo by: Team Hyundai Portugal

“It was a nice way to finish the rally. We know the reason we are here this weekend with the livery and everything, it was nice to do the job.”

Spain’s Alejandro Cachon claimed third, finishing five seconds adrift of Bulacia, driving a Citroen C3 Rally2.

Meeke is set to contest the remaining rounds of the Portuguese national championship, which includes an outing at Rally Portugal, the fifth round of the 2023 WRC season, next month.

Spain’s Dani Sordo is set to drive the third WRC factory Hyundai at the event, with the team yet to confirm plans for the car beyond the gravel event.

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