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.
Former International Racing Driver of the Year award winner Matt Griffin, who has racked up some 300 races in a Ferrari GT, has accepted a new role outside of his continuing competitive career that will see him race at 23 events this season.
Ott Tanak (Toyota Yaris WRC) took maximum points and a maiden win on Wales RallyGB to strengthen his grip on the Drivers’ title in the World Rally Championship where his team mate Tyrone’s Kris Meeke helped their Toyota Gazoo Racing team close to within eight points of Hyundai for the Manufacturers’ crown.
An aquaplaning slide on the day’s final stage saw Tyrone’s Kris Meeke (Toyota Yaris WRC) relinquish his day-long lead in Wales Rally GB. Overnight he held third just 3.6 seconds behind team mate Ott Tanak and just two 10ths of a second off second- placed Sebastien Ogier (Citroen WRC).
Irish drivers Kris Meeke (Toyota Gazoo Racing) and Craig Breen (Hyundai Motorsport) may have to park their own desire to win the Wales Rally GB to ensure their respective teams have the best possible platform to win the WRC Manufacturers’ title.
Derry driver Marty McCormack will give the Volkswagen Polo GTi R5 its Irish rally debut on next week’s CBtoolhire.com Cork “20” International Rally providing the Munster Car Club organisers with a major coup for their two-day event that brings the curtain down on the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
Craig Breen’s full time future in the World Rally Championship could depend on his performance with Hyundai Motorsport in the Neste Rally Finland, round nine of the World Rally Championship that began with the mixed-surface Harju street stage in front of a huge crowds in central Jyvaskyla last evening.
The Joule Donegal International Rally ended in tragic circumstances early yesterday when Manus Kelly, who won the event for the last three years, lost his life after his Hyundai i20 R5 crashed and left the road on Stage 15, Fanad Head.
In front of one of the biggest crowds of spectators in recent times, Waterford’s Craig Breen and his Killarney co-driver Paul Nagle took their Ford Fiesta R5 to victory in the Corrib Oil Galway International Rally, the opening round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
From a season-ending World Rally Championship victory being a distinct possibility, on the Kennards Hire Rally Australia, Craig Breen (Citroen C3 WRC) saw the prospect undone ever so quickly. Midway in the second leg, he was down in tenth place, due to a series of incidents. Aided by some late retirements, the Waterford driver eventually finished seventh.
The line up for next year’s Word Rally Championship is taking shape following two major announcements this week. The highest profile announcement came from Toyota Gazoo Racing with Irish driver Kris Meeke joining Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala in factory Yaris World Rally Cars.
Although Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) won the Clare Rally, the penultimate round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, he faces an uphill battle to win the series after his main rival Donegal’s Declan Boyle, co-driven by James O’Reilly came home in fifth.
Having spurned a chance to tighten his grip on the Triton Showers National Rally Championship, Donegal’s Declan Boyle (Ford Fiesta WRC) faces title rival Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) on Sunday’s Charlie McEnery Motor Services Clare Rally, the penultimate round of the series.
Monaghan native Barry McKenna (Ford Fiesta R5), who co-driven by Leon Jordan, jetted in from his New York base and claimed victory in the Crafted Fitted Furniture Cork Forest Rally that was based in Mallow and counted as two rounds of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship.
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC) edged out champion, Sebastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta WRC), on the final stage to win round seven of the World Rally Championship, Rally Italia Sardegna, by just seven-tenths of a second.
Although second spot was snatched away on the final stage, Ballylickey’s Keith Cronin was satisfied with third place on his debut in the PCRS Hyundai i20 R5 on the Pirelli Rally, the opening round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship in Carlisle.
Triple British rally champion Keith Cronin from Ballylickey, with co-driver Killarney’s Mikie Galvin, are back into contention for this season’s Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) as they annexed top points in the Ypres Rally in Belgium, the first overseas round in the 59-year history of the BRC.
Donegal’s Donagh Kelly has won numerous Irish rallies some of which culminated in National and Tarmac Championship titles — one of three drivers to win both in the same season. Yet, the one rally that has eluded him is, ironically, the Joule Donegal International Rally.