Two-time win­ner vows to help 2018 event come­back

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Photos: mck­lein-im­age­ and Jakob Ebrey By David Evans

Two-time Cir­cuit of Ire­land win­ner Craig Breen has vowed to do all he can to res­ur­rect the event in time for 2018 fol­low­ing last week’s an­nounce­ment that it has been canned for next year.

The or­gan­is­ers of the Belfast-based com­bined Euro­pean, Bri­tish, Ir­ish Tar­mac and North­ern Ir­ish cham­pi­onship rally ad­mit­ted they were un­able to pro­ceed with­out the nec­es­sary fund­ing in place.

Event di­rec­tor Bobby Wil­lis said: “We have been work­ing hard with all our fun­ders to plan ahead for 2017, but re­gret­tably at this point in time the fi­nan­cial resources re­quired to de­liver the event are still not in place. To run the rally next year, in the cur­rent for­mat, with­out the right resources and nec­es­sary plan­ning pe­riod would be to do the rally a gross dis­ser­vice. I be­lieve we can­not risk pro­ceed­ing with the 2017 event at this point with­out fi­nan­cial cer­tainty.”

The event is ex­pected to re­turn in 2018, but Breen can’t imag­ine a sea­son with­out the world’s third old­est rally.

“I’m gutted,” said Breen. “This is a mile­stone event every year for me. Every­body knows how much I love it and how much it means to me, so for it not to hap­pen would be un­be­liev­ably dis­ap­point­ing. I’ll do ev­ery­thing I can to help Bobby and help the or­gan­is­ers to put some­thing to­gether for next sea­son. It’s got to hap­pen. I want to be there and I want to be chas­ing the hat-trick [of wins].”

Breen added that there was a wider-reaching con­cern for ral­ly­ing on the Emer­ald Isle if the Cir­cuit didn’t hap­pen.

“The Cir­cuit’s a big event and we need in­ter­na­tional series to come to Ire­land,” said Breen. “If we don’t have the ERC or any in­ter­na­tional ral­lies peo­ple won’t know what we’ve got.

“When I was in Fin­land, I was talk­ing to the boys in the Abu Dhabi To­tal team about Done­gal and Kil­larn­ery and their eyes lit up. These and the Cir­cuit mean some­thing.”

ERC boss Jean-bap­tiste Ley said: “We ac­cept Bobby’s de­ci­sion but we will keep the door firmly open in the hope that if the Cir­cuit does re­turn, it could do so as a round of the ERC.”

Martin (l) and Breen cel­e­brate win

Duo com­pleted a dou­ble in 2016 and want event’s re­turn

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