BREEN READY FOR CITROEN BAPTISM DAVID EVANS
GROUP RALLYING EDITOR “Craig will get another go. Will Sweden?”
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.”