Con­trast­ing for­tunes: Evans and Breen

Motor Sport News - - Wrc Preview: The Brits -

Mex­ico will be a lonely old place. Af­ter en­joy­ing the com­pany of a brace of fron­trun­ning Brits for the last 26 rounds of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, MN will be in Leon with­out Kris Meeke or Elfyn Evans.

Meeke’s ab­sence from the North Amer­i­can stages sits eas­ily with him. The same can­not be said for Evans. The Welsh­man will con­test Monte Carlo and Swe­den, but af­ter that his pro­gramme has yet to be de­cided. One thing’s for sure, he’ll start the year in a Ford Fi­esta R5, not the RS WRC he ended last sea­son in.

Whether you be­lieve Evans has been harshly treated by M-sport or not, one thing is ab­so­lutely cer­tain. His de­mo­tion looks to have fired him up like never be­fore.

He will spear­head an M-sport as­sault on this year’s WRC2 ti­tle – some­thing which would help se­cure more cus­tomers for the Cum­bri­ans – as well as fight for the re­vived Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship.

For Evans, a WRC2 ti­tle would act as a ve­hi­cle to, hope­fully, re­turn him to the front line of world cham­pi­onship ac­tion.

“My pri­or­ity,” he says, “is to be back in a World Rally Car as soon as pos­si­ble.”

What is it they say about not miss­ing it un­til it’s gone? Ab­sence, it seems has al­ready made Evans’ heart grow fonder for what he’s had for the last two sea­sons.

Evans, his new co-driver Craig Parry, and the re­vi­talised Fi­esta ver­sus Es­apekka Lappi in a Skoda Fabia R5 does have a tasty ring to it. This year’s WRC2 race has some real spark to it again.

If there’s one man Evans shouldn’t talk to pre-sea­son it’s Craig Breen. The Ir­ish­man couldn’t wait to get out of the se­cond divi­sion and he couldn’t be more de­lighted to have landed a big time seat with the Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Breen will be driv­ing a Citroen DS 3 WRC as team-mate to Meeke, start­ing in Swe­den and con­tin­u­ing… some­where.

“I don’t know any­thing re­ally about the pro­gramme,” says Breen, in a tone that in­di­cates he couldn’t care less about the pro­gramme, not now he’s got the right set of keys in his hand.

By some dis­tance, this is Breen’s big­gest chance. It’s not too much of a stretch to say the Water­ford 25-year-old will go head-to­head with Stephane Lefebvre for the se­cond Citroen seat in 2017. Some in Lefebvre’s home­town might quib­ble with that, but if the team’s top brass was happy with him, why would they have given Breen the shot in the first place? Surely it would be bet­ter just to give the seat and as much ex­pe­ri­ence as pos­si­ble to their cho­sen one. The rea­son is, there is no cho­sen one, yet. It’ll be a toughie for Breen and co-driver Scott Martin though. World Rally Car out­ings were some­thing of a rar­ity while they were strug­gling to find the fin­ish – any fin­ish – in Peu­geot’s 208 T16.

That said, this will be Breen’s fourth start in Swe­den and he fin­ished ninth over­all in a Fi­esta RS WRC last time he was there in ’14. The DS 3’s not renowned as easy to jump into, but Breen’s adapt­able. Es­pe­cially when he’s got sight of the golden ticket.

Breen had a tricky 2015 in 208

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