- Craig Breen [Copyright: MRF Racing]

Breen secures Top 10 result for MRF in ERC's Rally di Roma Capitale

The Indian tyre manufacturer continued its development work.

Friday:

Rally di Roma Capitale got underway today (23 July) in spectacular fashion with Team MRF Tyres drivers showing well in front of an excited crowd. The Special Show Stage officially got the rally underway with a 2.72km blast through the streets of Rome, passing many of the world’s best known historical sites. It was a stage to consolidate the times before the six Saturday stages.

Craig Breen and Paul Nagle were immediately competitive through the streets in their Hyundai i20 R5, setting the sixth fastest time of 1:54.8. Simone Campedelli and Tania Canton preferred to concentrate on the Saturday running and wanted to be sure to bring their Volkswagen Polo R5 unscathed.

Earlier in the day, the teams tackled the qualifying stage which would set the running order for the rally. Breen and Nagle set a time of 2:11.102 which was the 12th fastest time and allowed him to choose his starting spot at the ceremonial start in Rome. He will be the 11th car on the road for the rally.

Meanwhile, Simone Campedelli and Tania Canton experienced a problem on the first corner and turned their attention to maximising their potential for the six stages on Saturday which will offer an ideal chance to gain data and show their pace. The Saturday action will see 64.18km of competitive action across six stages. The first stage of the day, Rocca di Cave 1 gets underway at 9:53am local time or 1:23pm if you are in India.

Craig Breen, Hyundai i20 R5 , said: "I pushed in the qualifying stage this morning and we got a good time. This evening it was great to be in the Team MRF Tyres car on the streets of Rome. There were plenty of people out watching and it was a lovely stage.”

Simone Campedelli, VW Polo R5 , added: “I have really good memories at Rally di Roma Capitale. The level of the ERC gets better and better every year. For us, we are here to develop the MRF Tyres. They show a really high pace in gravel and we have done a good job to be competitive and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s stages.”

Saturday:

It was a day of development to focus on the future developments for Team MRF Tyres in the European Rally Championship’s Rally di Roma Capitale on Saturday. The Saturday stages featured 64km of competitive action through the Italian mountains. Hot and sunny conditions greeted the crews, making the endless stream of hairpins and fast curves more challenging.

After a late night back from Rome, the crews started their Saturday running at 9:53am local time and were greeted with the 7.25km Rocca di Cave 1 stage. The 19.70km Rocca Santo Stefano stage followed before the 7.34km Affie – Bellegra stage completed the loop.

Craig Breen and Paul Nagle would concentrate on tyre data gathering while pushing for stage times in their Hyundai i20 R5. It was the same story for Simone Campedelli and Tania Canton. Their local knowledge would prove beneficial in data collection from their VW Polo R5.

By the end of the first loop, Breen and Nagle would sit in 14th and Campedelli/Canton in 18th. At the midday service, the teams focused on changing settings for the afternoon stages, inline with the development goals. The afternoon loop featured two identical stages to the morning, however the final stage used the last 2.94km of the Affie stage.

The development goals were met and the drivers moved their way up the leaderboard. By the end of the day, Breen and Nagle sat in 12th and Campedelli and Canton, in 14th place. It is an incredibly tight rally with just 17.8 seconds separating 6th to 15th place demonstrating the high level and competitive nature of the FIA ERC field.

For the MRF Tyres customer teams, Igor Widłak and Daniel Dymurski sat in third in the RC3 class. Focus now turns to the Sunday stages. The day is much longer than Sunday stages at 123.19km for the seven timed tests.

Craig Breen, Hyundai i20 R5 , said: "It was great to see the fans on the stages here today in Rally di Roma Capitale. The stages were really nice, the flowing roads through the mountains were really fun to drive. We were concentrating on development for Team MRF Tyres. To rally on such roads in these conditions is rare and it gives us a good chance to try different things and determine where we can develop the tyre in the longer term. I am looking forward to the stages tomorrow. It will be a long day but it will be nice.”

Simone Campedelli, VW Polo R5 , added: "It was a good day today for testing and development of the MRF Tyre. Today was my first time rallying on MRF Tyres on tarmac so it was a good learning day. I was able to make some changes at the midday service which really helped with the confidence I had in the car. Tomorrow is a long day and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Sunday:

It was a fruitful day today (Sunday) for Team MRF Tyres to conclude the FIA European Rally Championship’s Rally di Roma Capitale. It was a marathon day for the crews with seven stages and 124km of action to conquer. The stage distance of the final loop was longer than the entire day of Saturday, ensuring the crews would have to carefully consider their tactics through the day.

The Team MRF Tyers drivers of Craig Breen and Paul Nagle in the Hyundai i20 R5 along with Simone Campedelli and Tania Canton in their Volkswagen Polo R5 focused on data gathering for the continual development of MRF Tyres. However, the drivers pushed throughout the day as they were involved in a great fight that saw positions 6-15 separated by just 17.8 seconds at the start of the day.

For Craig Breen and Paul Nagle, their mission was also clear – bring home as much data as possible. They started the day in 12th position and would climb one position to 11th by the midday service. They were able to break into the top 10 on the second loop and finished in ninth.

Campedelli and Canton started the day in fine fashion. They started the day in 14th position but gained five positions on the first stage of the day to lie in ninth. It was a position that he would maintain coming into the midday service.

The afternoon loop was about car management, data collection and consolidation of the top ten position. However a minor issue on the final stage dropped them back down the order. For MRF Tyres customers, Polish duo Igor Widłak and Daniel took third in the RC3 category in their Ford Fiesta Rally3. It is their second class podium in a row.

The next European Rally Championship round for Team MRF Tyres is the Czech Zlin Rally that takes place from 27-29 August. The next outing for Team MRF Tyres is the Rally Città di Arezzo – Valtiberina which is the fourth round of the Campionato Italiano Rally Terra (CIRT) which takes place from 6-8 August.

Craig Breen, Hyundai i20 R5 , said: "It was great to see the crowds lining the roads here at Rally di Roma Capitale. The roads were really nice and we managed the warm conditions well. It was a very competitive field here this weekend and today’s stages required a lot of planning to make sure we had the car to make it through the second loop. I have to thank the team.

"They were able to change the power steering quickly in service after they noticed an issue. I meant we had a trouble free fun through the afternoon, which was important. We had our development objectives this weekend and we were able to complete the rally and bring home valuable data for Team MRF Tyres.”

Simone Campedelli, Volkswagen Polo R5 , added: “We were able to push a little bit more today after we made some changes to the car last night. This was my first tarmac rally on MRF Tyres and I was happy to be able to learn the characteristics and bring home some valuable data for the team.

"It was a hard and a long day and we had to manage the car, especially in the final loop which was very long. We made it through and got the data we needed. I am looking forward to the next round with MRF Tyres which, for me is in Italy in a couple weeks. Thanks to the team at MRF Tyres!”

[Image courtesy: MRF Racing] [Note: The above is as per press release with no changes made]

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