IN CIRCUIT OF IRELAND ATTACK Event winner to return with R5 Citroen
Craig Breen will return to defend his 2015 Circuit of Ireland win following a last-minute deal for him to drive a Citroen DS 3 R5.
The Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team driver was announced at the top of arguably the strongest Circuit entry list ever on Monday. He and co-driver Scott Martin will use a David Greer Motorsport car, testing it early in the week of the Belfast-based rally.
“I’m delighted to be doing the event,” Breen told MN. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t think there was much chance, but Bobby [Willis, event director] really spurred me on to get it sorted – not that I needed too much encouragement!”
Breen’s DGM deal came together late last week.
“It was all very last minute,” he said, “but the main thing is that we’re doing it. There’s a whole load of people I have to thank for getting me to the start line. I honestly don’t think you’d fit them all in MN and I might forget the odd one, so it’s best I don’t start listing them. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t be on an event that means so much to me without them.”
Breen won last year’s Circuit and will now look to surpass his hero Frank Meagher by taking back-to-back wins on Ireland’s most famous rally.
“It’s quite ironic that we’re using one of David Greer’s cars,” said Breen, “David finished second to Frank when he won the Circuit in 1992.
“This time around it is definitely going to be an even bigger task. Last year we had the European Rally Championship competitors and guys like Robert Barrable and Alastair Fisher to worry about – this time around we’ve got three series (ERC, British Rally Championship and Irish Tarmac Championship) converging and those championships are all at the top of their game and bringing some serious competition.”
Thirty-eight R5 cars are listed so far on the entry list for the April 7-9 event.
“That’s more cars with a theoretical chance to win a rally than I can ever remember before,” added Breen. “It’s a massive entry and there’s loads of quality in it. I think Elfyn’s [Evans] has to be the benchmark. He’s had a very strong start to the season and he comes in on the back of a round one win in the BRC. Then there’s Keith Cronin: this will be the first time he and I have crossed paths in a while and I think there’s going to be a few eyes on that fight.”
While Breen will be registering for the European Rally Championship element of the event, he says that he’s unlikely to sign up for BRC points also.
“I haven’t really thought much about that [BRC points],” Breen said, “but given that I can’t really see myself doing any more BRC rounds this year, it would seem a bit unfair to potentially take points away from other [BRC] drivers.
“To be honest, I just want to get there and compete. Don’t get me wrong, I’m desperate to win the Circuit again, but this event means so much to me, I’m over the moon just to be on the start line again.”
Event director Willis added: “As you can imagine, with a capacity entry for the Circuit