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Breen on podium pace after Portugal opener

Craig Breen got his fourth event of the year underway overnight, setting the third-fastest pace of Stage 1 of Rally Portugal.

A Hyundai 1-2 has put Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak to the front of the pack, with Breen and his Ford M-Sport teammate Gus Greensmith following in third and fourth.

Before the event got underway  Breen, said: “I am looking forward to Portugal, it’s a rally that I haven’t done for several years, I think it was 2018 the last time I did it. After the first three rallies, they were all a bit unique in their own way, so looking forward to seeing what the pace of the Puma will be in Portugal.

“We had a good test, I felt good in the car and we got some good work done. I am looking forward to discovering the rally, there are a lot of new stages and some changes since the last time I was there, so it will be interesting. I’d like to have a bit more speed than what we showed in Croatia, so we’ll be working as hard as we can to make that possible.”

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Breen has already stood on the podium this year thanks to his third-place finish at Rally Monte Carlo, while he came close in his last outing in Croatia where to took fourth spot. His unlucky weekend in Sweden saw him finish 36th after a crash on day two ruled him out of contention.

The highly anticipated event in Portugal marks the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the FIA World Rally Championship; Rally de Portugal featured in the championship’s inaugural season and this year’s event will celebrate half a century of history, with historic cars and figures making appearances over the course of the weekend.

Historic WRC car is seen during the World Rally Championship Portugal in Porto, Portugal on 19,May // Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

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In tandem with the anniversary celebrations in Porto, M-Sport Ford continues to add to the history books with the first five-car entry in WRC’s new hybrid Rally1 era.Despite Portugal’s reputation for being particularly rough and physically demanding for both crews and cars alike, the M-Sport team has delivered strong performances on the event over the years with an outright event victory in 2017 and a double podium the following year.

The event hosts some of rallying’s most famous stages, including the iconic Lousada super special stage on Friday and Sunday’s Fafe power stage, which features one of WRC’s most iconic jumps within the 11km final stage.

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