The Irishman, a podium finisher on three occasions in this year’s ERC, holds an overall advantage of 19.5s heading to service in Corte after he went quickest of all through the Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani stage, which was shown live on Eurosport and France 3 Corsica.
Breen, in a Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, had feared that he would lose time on the dry 24.57-kilometre run, which he tackled with a combination of hard and soft compound tyres. However, he edged ERC title leader Jan Kopecký by 3.4s to extend his margin out front, despite the ŠKODA Motorsport driver being the only leading contender to have a full set of hard-compound Michelin tyres at his disposal.
“The car was moving a lot,” said Breen. “I'm on two softs and two hard. I was having to push as hard as I could to make up the time I thought I might lose with the tyres."
Bryan Bouffier was third fastest in a 207, 7.5s down on Breen with Robert Kubica’s fourth-fastest time 8.0s slower than the effort recorded by Breen after the Pole again complained about a brake glitch on his Citroën DS3 RRC. Stéphane Sarrazin was fifth quickest with Jérémi Ancian sixth fastest.
While Germain Bonnefis continues to set the pace in the ERC Production Car Cup aboard his Renault Mégane RS, team-mate Robert Consani suffered a troubled stage. He was late starting while he adjusted his car’s tyre pressures before a brake problem caused more delay. GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s Antonín Tlusťák also reported a brake issue while Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza driver Andreas Aigner said using soft and hard compound Yokohama tyres caused his car to understeer.
Meanwhile, in the battle for the ERC 2WD Championship, Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi (Renault Clio R3) holds an advantage of 31.9s over Jean-Francois Succi. Molly Taylor is ahead of Ekaterina Stratieva in the ERC Ladies’ Trophy standings.