BREEN BACKING CIRCUIT RETURN
Two-time winner vows to help 2018 event comeback
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