GROUP RAL­LY­ING EDITOR “Craig will get an­other go. Will Swe­den?”

Motor Sport News - - Rally Sweden - Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­, FIA ERC North West Stages Re­port, p25

This week’s Rally Swe­den will pro­vide Craig Breen with the op­por­tu­nity to step up to a top­spec World Rally Cham­pi­onship seat for the first time.

Breen, who took back-to-back WRC Academy and SWRC ti­tles in 2011 and 2012, has spent the last two years driv­ing for Peu­geot in the Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship. Now though, comes the big step for­ward for the 26-year-old from Water­ford.

“This re­ally is a child­hood dream,” Breen told MN, shortly af­ter step­ping from the works Citroen DS 3 WRC at his first test with the Abu Dhabi To­tal World Rally Team on Mon­day.

“The car’s ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble. Hon­estly, it’s amaz­ing and like noth­ing I’ve driven be­fore. OK, I did a cou­ple of events in the Fi­esta [RS WRC], but things have moved on a fair bit since then. The way the dif­fer­en­tials and the sus­pen­sion work in the DS 3 is just out of this world.

“This re­ally is a red let­ter day for me. But it’s just the start, I know I’ve got plenty of work ahead of me to make the next step – but thanks to ev­ery­body at Abu Dhabi and Citroen for giv­ing me the chance to show what I’m ca­pa­ble of.”

While Breen’s dream has come true in driv­ing the DS 3, the con­di­tions he’ll face in Swe­den are some­thing of a night­mare.

“It’s true,” he said. “The con­di­tions are tough. The test road we’re us­ing is chang­ing ev­ery half an hour; the gravel’s com­ing through and rip­ping the studs out of the tyres, so we’re not get­ting as many runs as we might be. But I can deal with all of that when I’m sit­ting in this car.”

Breen ex­pected to clock up around 60 miles of test­ing close to Torsby, in­clud­ing mileage in the dark, in or­der to firm up lamp pod set­tings for his DS 3.

He con­tin­ued: “While the con­di­tions aren’t great here, one pos­i­tive is that it looks like the roads on the rally will be pretty sim­i­lar, so the ex­pe­ri­ence we’re get­ting here will be use­ful for us on the event it­self. I re­ally feel like I’m adapt­ing pretty well to ev­ery­thing.”

On the sub­ject of what he ex­pected from Rally Swe­den, Breen said: “I now have to grab this chance and show that I de­serve my place among the elite. My aim is to keep im­prov­ing through­out the rally, not to push like crazy on the first stage. I have a lot to learn and I’ll have other op­por­tu­ni­ties to show my speed.”

Breen will join Lefebvre in Swe­den

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