Craig Breen and Paul Nagle after winning Rally Ypres at the weekend. Photo: Sean Hassett.
I think it’s fair to say that this has been a great week for local rally driver Craig Breen. On Thursday news came out that he would be returning to the World Rally Championship to drive for the Hyundai team at Rally Finland in August and then at the weekend he landed the Ypres International Rally.
Along with regular co-driver, Paul Nagle, Craig, in a VW Polo WRC dominated Belgium’s Ypres International Rally winning the British Championship round by 45 seconds and beating Dutch ace Kevin Abbring in another Polo into second place.
Abbring was the early leader on Friday evening’s stages, but Breen took charge on the fourth of twenty three stages and was never headed from then onwards.
Meanwhile, Craig and Paul Nagle, will return to the World Rally Championship for Rally Finland, August 1-4, when he will drive for Hyundai.
Hydunai Motorsport said, “We have announced our line-up for Rally Finland, the ninth round of the 2019 WRC season, with a new crew joining the team for a one-off appearance. Craig Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle will compete in the #42 i20 Coupe WRC alongside Thierry/Nicolas and Andreas/Anders as part of a three-crew line-up.
“We have put collective experience at the heart of our operation for one of the fastest and most challenging rounds on the WRC calendar. Craig and Paul will bolster our championship efforts as we aim to strengthen our 46-point lead in the manufacturers’ standings.
“Rally Finland is a very particular type of event that warrants an approach like no other on the calendar,” said our Team Director Andrea. “It’s a huge challenge for teams and crews alike. Craig has demonstrated his class at this event in the past and has a lot of experience, which will be invaluable to us.”
Not surprisingly, Craig is delighted with the opportunity. “I am chuffed to be given this chance,” said Craig. “It’s been a long and patient wait, having to watch everyone else drive this year. I am honoured to have this one-off opportunity with Paul as my co-driver.”
The Irishman took his first WRC podium in Finland in 2016, and has competed there each year since 2009, with the sole exception of 2013. He will have sufficient opportunities to get up to speed ahead of the WRC event. A seat fitting will be followed by a pre-event test, as well as participation in Rally Estonia (July 12-14). Andreas/Anders will also join that event as representative preparation for the fast Finnish stages.
“Finland is the rally I’ve done most in the WRC so I hope I can bring something to the team,” Craig added. “I am getting plenty of seat time before Finland. It will remain a challenge but one I am ready to grasp with both hands. I’ll be competing with the #42, a number I’ve raced with since my first year in karting in 1998, and that has always been very lucky. Let’s hope it remains that way!”