ARE FIGHT­ING FOR THE FRENCH

Motor Sport News - - Wrc Preview: Citroen’s Hope -

term com­mit­ment, it made such a dif­fer­ence. Be­fore that I was con­stantly try­ing to prove some­thing while driv­ing on the edge.

CB: I know what you mean, get­ting a man­u­fac­turer like this be­hind you brings so much more con­fi­dence. Do you feel the ex­pec­ta­tion from Citroen?

KM: Of course you do, suc­cess runs right through this or­gan­isa­taion – but we’re in a dif­fer­ent time now. Sebastien Loeb was Sebastien Loeb, he was a one­off and I don’t think we’ll ever see a driver win­ning nine ti­tles in a row again. I’m not Sebastien Loeb, I haven’t won one ti­tle yet – haven’t even come close. But I don’t think any­body could want it more than I do and hav­ing the back­ing of a team like Citroen is massive.

MN: Do you feel dif­fer­ent again com­ing into this sea­son?

KM: I think about those kind of things a lot less now than I did be­fore. There’s less doubt in my head. I don’t think I ever doubted my­self, I was al­ways sure I could get here, but it was dif­fi­cult when I was try­ing to show my speed while I was also try­ing se­cure the re­main­der of the sea­son. And go­ing up against a guy like Mads [Ost­berg] was tough. Mads might not be an out and out ti­tle con­tender, but he’s a hell of a quick guy when you’ve been thrown into a car to show your­self against him. I knew I could do it, but I did trip my­self up a few times along the way.

CB: Your speed is def­i­nitely one of your strengths, but it al­ways comes at that risk as well. I would say you are the quick­est guy from A to B in the cham­pi­onship. Look at Oun­in­po­hja last year, even if the rest of us had driven the stage of our lives, I don’t think any­body would have come close to you. But when you have that abil­ity to drive at that speed, there’s al­ways the risk it can go a bit wrong.

MN: What do you think of Kris’s ti­tle chances this year, Craig?

CB: This is his best chance yet, no doubt. He’s in a fan­tas­tic po­si­tion with a good con­tract and the team right be­hind him, plenty of test­ing, good ex­pe­ri­ence of most events and, like we’ve talked about, he has the speed. His nat­u­ral ri­val for the ti­tle is Sebastien Ogier and he’s step­ping into that new car without so much ex­pe­ri­ence, which will be an ad­van­tage for Kris as well. I hon­estly think this could be your year and I wish you all the best. It’s great to be in a team with Kris and to get some of that ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge rub­bing off.

KM: I was lucky in that I had a few peo­ple around me when I was younger who could of­fer me ad­vice on ev­ery­thing and, of course, I’m go­ing to be the same with you. We’re a very open team here, there’s no se­crets on the set-up or any­thing like that.

CB: The at­mos­phere in the team is pretty spe­cial.

KM: With so many of us from Ire­land – north and south – I think we have the cast­ing vote in a French team!

CB: It’s great though. It’s like be­ing back at home and that’s so good to help re­lax ev­ery­body. Like I said, hav­ing Kris there is great, but hav­ing Paul [Na­gle, Meeke’s co-driver] is fan­tas­tic. Paul has co-driven for me and kind of been there through a lot of my ca­reer. And we have Chris [Pat­ter­son, Khalid Al Qas­simi’s co-driver] as well. For­tu­nately we have Stephane [Lefebvre] and Gabin [Moreau, Lefebvre’s co-driver] to main­tain the French pres­ence!

MN: Should we men­tion Scott? He might feel left out?

CB: We prob­a­bly should yeah! Scotty’s [Martin, Breen’s co-driver] fan­tas­tic – apart from when he’s talk­ing about foot­ball. Se­ri­ously though, there’s ab­so­lutely nowhere I would rather be right now than in this team. We all get on so well, I love it.

MN: This is the first time we’ve ever had two driv­ers from the Emer­ald Isle in a full-time fac­tory World Rally Cham­pi­onship team. How has that gone down at home?

KM: It’s good. We had Colin [Mcrae] and Richard [Burns] who were Scot­land and Eng­land and now we’ve got the north and south of Ire­land. I hope peo­ple get on the back of this and en­joy it. There’s no doubt it’s a fan­tas­tic boost for Ir­ish ral­ly­ing.

CB: I think it’s a real shot in the arm for the sport back home to be hon­est. And I think it shows what a good stan­dard the sport is cur­rently op­er­at­ing at back home – it shows our do­mes­tic se­ries are good enough for driv­ers to come out of there and into the ju­nior or sup­port se­ries in the Euro­pean or World Rally Cham­pi­onship. It’s great for the fans as well. The Ir­ish rally fans are a fairly unique bunch of peo­ple and I look for­ward to meet­ing more and more of them this year.

MN: What’s it like at home now, are you recog­nised more?

CB: That’s a tricky one for me to an­swer. Where I’m from it’s all about hurl­ing and I live slap-bang in the mid­dle of two of the big­gest hurl­ing teams in Ire­land. You get recog­nised ev­ery now and then, but, to be hon­est, I don’t care about that at all – it’s not why I’m do­ing this. Un­less it got me a bit of a dis­count on my shop­ping, that is…

KM: We’re all the same when we’re sit­ting on the toi­let – no­body’s a su­per­star then!

CB: Do you get recog­nised much back at home?

KM: There’s the odd chat when I’m at the petrol sta­tion in Dun­gan­non, but I’m in An­dorra a lot these days and I just get on with things out there. Like you say, we’re not in this to be fa­mous. I’m in this be­cause it’s the job I’ve al­ways dreamed of do­ing and I want to do it to the best of my abil­ity. n

Craig Breen’s third place in Fin­land was huge achieve­ment

Breen’s drive to the podium in Fin­land helped ce­ment his full-time seat

Rally GB will be spe­cial for Citroen

Meeke flew to vic­tory in Por­tu­gal

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