Craig Breen’s return to the World Rally Championship with Hyundai Motorsport has given the Waterford ace the opportunity to showcase his ability on this weekend’s Rally Sweden, where, just two years ago he secured his best ever result (second) in the WRC.
With Killarney’s Paul Nagle alongside, the duo will certainly make the most of the opportunity.
“I am very humbled to have the chance of getting behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC again. From the first moment I drove the car, I felt a lot of confidence and I could drive my own natural way.
Sweden is a rally I enjoy, I scored my best-ever result in the World Championship there a few years ago. Hopefully the conditions will be favourable.
When I am back in my happy place driving a WRC car, I will have a nice weekend.”
Northern Ireland’s Jon Armstrong and Killarney’s Noel O’Sullivan (Ford Fiesta) compete in the JWRC.
There are four stages today with a total of 63.68km through the forests on the borders of Sweden and Norway.
On the domestic front, two championships get underway at the weekend with the new-look five-round McGrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship opening its account on the Pacenotes Rally in Kirkistown and the Willie Loughman Carrick on Suir Forest Rally kickstarting the Valvoline Forest series.
Monaghan’s Stephen Wright (Ford Fiesta R5) became the first driver from the 26 counties to win the NI series last year and tomorrow begins his title defence against his main adversary Glengormley’s Derek McGarrity (Skoda Fabia R5) who is aiming for an unprecedented ninth title.
On Sunday, the Willie Loughman Forest Rally in the forests of south-Tipperary ushers in the Valvoline Championship.
Last year’s event runner-up Waterford’s Andrew Purcell and Cork co-driver Liam Brennan should be a major force in the P&M Autos backed Ford Fiesta R5.
Tipperary’s Liam Ryan is on board a Fiesta R5 with the experienced Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty calling the notes.
Former Billy Coleman award winner and MI Academy backed driver Armagh’s James Wilson will drive the PCRS run Hyundai i20 R5.
Ballyvourney’s Gerard Lucey and Monaghan’s Michael Carbin along with Waterford’s Keith Power campaign versions of the Mitsubishi Evo.
The main contenders in the two-wheel drive category are Tyrone’s Paul Barrett (Ford Escort) and Cavan’s Gary Kiernan, also in an Escort.
Elsewhere, the Skibbereen and District Car Club’s Loose Surface Autocross at Derryleigh — to the west of Leap — kicks off the Munster Autocross Championship.
Cork drivers Dermot O’Riordan, Paul O’Driscoll, Fachtna McCarthy, Stevey Lane, Brian O’Mahony, all in the Semog Buggy will face outside opposition from the similar machines of Clare’s Brian Hassett and Wexford’s Paul Furlong. Leap’s Diarmuid French (Special) is also on the entry list.
The action begins at 10.45am.