Having fulfilled a lifetime ambition by winning the Circuit of Ireland last Easter, Craig Breen’s continuation of his desire to make it to the pinnacle of world motorsport has moved up several gears with the announcement that he is to form part of a three-team assault on Rally Sweden with the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team.
Buoyed by the news it led him to tweet: “The first part of our dream has come true!”
There are few as deserving of the big break.
Even as a karter, Breen possessed great determination and perseverance, those qualities were further honed as he progressed through his rallying career.
He won the WRC Academy series in 2011 and the SWRC in 2012 before joining the Peugeot Rally Academy in 2013.
There is little doubt that he should have won the European Rally Championship either last year or in 2014, but he didn’t and that only serves to underline that nothing comes easy in motorsport.
In both campaigns, reliability proved to be his downfall.
Having given the Peugeot 208 T16 a winning debut on the Acropolis in 2014 all looked good for Breen but the car never proved reliable. His Circuit win last year was one of three victories, he was denied another win due to a technical error by the Sainteloc team.
Despite the disappointments Breen showed great resolve and tenacity and he’s finally been rewarded for his efforts.
On what is the second round of the WRC, Breen and co-driver Scott Martin will have some familiar faces alongside them in Sweden.
Also competing in Citroen WRCs are the Dungannon/Killarney pair of Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle while Glengormley’s Chris Patterson will co-drive for Khalid Al Qassimi.
Al Qassimi is patron at the new squad that will be run in association with Citroen’s customer racing division, PH Sport.
Al Qassimi is pleased to maintain Abu Dhabi’s presence in the WRC whilst providing opportunities for talented young drivers from the PSA Peugeot Citroen group.
French ace Stephane Lefebvre and Meeke will drive the Citroen’s on the Monte Carlo in a few weeks time.
For Breen, the journey has been a long, winding and tough road, he outlined how recent events unfolded.
“We have been working hard with different teams from about the middle of last year (2014).
"My speed was quite good on WRC events and that was recognised within the PSA Group. Winning the Circuit (in 2015) was the obvious highlight and while it was disappointing not to have won the European Rally Championship it was always going to be a stepping stone.”
Breen has already competed in Sweden – finishing ninth (top privateer) in the 2014 event in a Ford Fiesta WRC, the same season he was also in line for a top ten finish in Finland until he was forced out with a back injury.
Enjoying a few days at home over the festive season he said, “I’m making the most of my time off after 16 or 17 events.
"I gives me time to catch up on my training and be in the best shape possible for Sweden.
"We will be doing the recce for Monte Carlo and will stay with the team for the weekend to see how they operate so as I can be in the best position possible for Sweden.”
Over Christmas, Breen took part in the Carlow Rallysprint where he gave ten-year-old Ennis boy David Falconer, who suffers from a rare skin condition, the opportunity to sample some rally action.
Breen also won the Jaffa Rally in Wales, an event in honour of his former co-driver, the late Gareth Roberts.
Breen admitted: “It’s been a long road, up and down, left and right but we are back on the straight and narrow and all is good.”
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