Waterford’s Breen warms up with Rally Estonia outing

As preparation for Rally Finland, the next round of the World Rally Championship, the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT has entered Waterford’s Craig Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin in tomorrow’s Shell Helix Rally Estonia.

On-board his C3 WRC, Breen is one of three WRC drivers on the entry. Estonian Ott Tanak (Toyota Yaris WRC) is top seed with Breen at No2 and New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20 WRC) completing the top three.

The rally offers similar features to the fast-flowing stages in Finland and is seen as ideal preparation before the WRC series that resumes in a fortnight.

In Finland, Breen and the other WRC drivers will average speeds of around 130km/h with crests and jumps at almost every turn. Incidentally, Breen scored his first WRC podium when he finished third in Finland two years ago. There are 16 stages in this weekend’s event and that should be a perfect shakedown for the Waterford driver.

“This will be my third time here after 2011 and 2015, and although the stages seem to have changed quite a bit since then, this appearance looks like it will be excellent preparation for Rally Finland,” he said.

The stages here are extremely fast, in fact, in some places they are quicker than in Finland. They will help me to get used to driving at high speeds again and be on the pace from the word go in Finland.

Breen was supported by Citroen Racing Team principal Pierre Budar, who said: “The purpose of this outing is to help Craig get into the best possible shape before Finland. It will also be useful from a technical point of view and supplement our normal pre-event test session because it will enable us to use a greater variety of roads.”

There are 11 stages tomorrow and five on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Motorsport Ireland has announced that Kells racing driver William Kellett, 18, has been nominated for the Young Racing Driver of the Year award.

He’s the winner for the month of May, during which he netted a third- and fourth-place finish in the Fiesta Zetec races at Bishopscourt. He also set the fastest lap in the first race at the County Down circuit. He began his motorsport activity in Junior Rallycross four years ago and last year switched to the Fiesta Zetec class and took three outright wins. A Leaving Certificate student this year, he plans on continuing his studies at University of Limerick in September.

Following the cancellation of the Sligo Rally, that was due to count as the fourth round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, the championship committee has yet to announce a replacement event.

It appears that competitors were polled with three options: The Galway Summer Rally, Fastnet Rally (Bantry), or no replacement. That outcome was indecisive.

The Galway event is just one week after the Clonmel-based Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally that is the next counting round. It is also the day after the Ulster Rally, a counting round of the Irish Tarmac Championship).

Elsewhere, the Hyundai Limerick Motor Centre National Grass Autocross Championship continues on Sunday with the Clare Motor Club hosting a round in Toormore near Ruan.

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