Breen ready for Belgian Battle!
June 16, 2014 by Leo Nulty
The town of Ypres in Belgium is no stranger to battles as is well documented in history and this week Peugeot Rally Academy’s Craig Breen along with Europe’s other top drivers roll into town to do battle of a different kind at Round 6 of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) ,The “Geko Ypres Rally” on June 19th-21st. Celebrating its 50th year, the all asphalt Ypres Rally is a favourite event for rallying fans the world over and the organisers of this year’s event have promised a very special rally for drivers and spectators alike with twenty special stages totalling almost 300kms using farmland roads around the historic town that are typically slippy, narrow and lined by drainage ditches.
Although Craig announced in recent weeks of his intentions to compete in the World Championship on two further events this year he is very focused on his ERC championship ambitions and what he along with the Peugeot Rally Academy team have to achieve as they head to Belgium on a quest for their second win in this year’s FIA ERC, saying “there is no denying that the last two outings had very disappointing conclusions and its vital that we take away good points from Ypres.” Leaving nothing to chance Craig and his Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Kevin Abbring took part in a two day development test recently for Peugeot Sport in an effort to get the maximum from their 208 T16’s on this very specialist event. Organised by their Saintéloc Racing run team the Peugeot pair will also have a one day set-up test on a road similar to that of the rally this week where final adjustments can be made.
Then as usual the action gets underway on Thursday with a 4.9km qualifying stage at 8pm local time where the fastest driver in Qualifying will earn the right to select their starting position for Friday’s opening leg and it’s a gentle start to Friday as the start order selections won’t be made until lunch time on the podium. The first of the day’s seven stages goes live just before 5pm of which those stages only account for just over 100km of the rally’s competitive mileage for the real sting in the tail will be Saturday (Leg2) with almost double the distance and stages to tackle.
Having finished 3rd in mixed weather conditions last year in the old Peugeot 207 S2000, Craig is naturally feeling confident this time using 208T16 which although still in the development had its public unveiling here last year when it ran as a zero car ahead of the rally. Apart from Craig’s own Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate there will be plenty of opposition for the win from not only his ERC regular rivals but a whole host of previous winners including former eight times local winner Freddy Loix who will be sure to be on a mission to repeat his winning performance of last year.