BREEN AIMS FOR TOP SIX RESULT
Three-year forest agreement signed for Rally GB to go ahead, but costs in Wales are still to be decided
Craig Breen starts an asphalt World Rally Championship event in a WR Car for the first time this weekend, chasing a top-six position on this week’s Tour of Corsica.
The Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team driver knows his performance on the French island will be scrutinised as he chases a full-time seat with Citroen Racing next season.
Having demonstrated his ability on the loose with a third place in Finland, Breen can’t wait to get going on an event he knows and enjoys.
“I really love this rally,” said Breen. “The narrow, bumpy roads remind me of the ones you get in Ireland andthat’s why I feel so at home here. We know what to expect at this rally: weather that can make tyre choice difficult, managing wear on the brakes, the need to maintain concentration on narrow, twisty 50-kilometre stages. It’ll be difficult, starting with recce! I don’t think there’s a better place for me to contest my first Tarmac rally in a World Rally Car.”
Breen admitted his lack of experience aboard the DS 3 WRC on asphalt would lessen the chances of a repeat of his sensational Finland result.
“It would be unrealistic to try and match the podium from Finland,” he said “I would be delighted with a top-six finish!”
Breen admitted Corsica’s unique format of a small number of very long stages would provide a real test.
“The rally format is different to what we are used to in the WRC,” he said. “And there’s the added endurance dimension, with the first day with no service and a lot of miles to cover. We’ll have to adapt to this rhythm, staying calm on the long road sections before invoking a bit of fighting spirit at the start of the stages!”
Citroen has remained tightlipped on the possible identity of a second driver alongside Kris Meeke next season, but Breen, along with Thierry Neuville, Stephane Lefebvre and Ott Tanak, remains in the fold.
Meeke says that he is completely relaxed about who joins him in a second C3 WRC next season.
“I don’t mind who it is,” he said. “They can help with the manufacturers’ championship, but they’re not going to help me be world champion. If it’s Thierry, then fine, I’ve no problem with that. I’ve worked my balls off with this team around me and everything is looking really good now – as for the number two in the team, that’s not my decision at all.”
Natural Resource Wales and the Motor Sports Association have signed a new three-year access agreement for rallying in Welsh Forests, but the long-term cost recovery structure is still to be decided.
Since the old access agreement expired in May, rallies have been agreed by NRW on a case-by-case basis, with NRW asking for an increase in costs of just under 100 per cent, the price it claimed it needed to recoup its cost for repairing the damage done to roads through NRW land.
A press release issued last weekend centred its attention on Wales Rally GB, but in reality the deal covers rallying in Wales.
In the release, Tim Jones, Natural Resources Wales’ executive director of operations for North and Mid Wales, said: “The forest roads we look after have achieved almost legendary status in the world of rallying.
“We hope this new access agreement sends a positive message to the rallying community that NRW and the MSA continue to have a good relationship, and are working together to ensure this important event in the Welsh sporting calendar takes place.”
A permanent cost structure deal is expected to be resolved next month, with NRW, MSA and Rally4wales in advanced talks over a deal. The not-forprofit Rally4wales campaign has been set up to take care of rally stage repairs.