Breen’s SWRC Spanish Showdown
November 5, 2012 by Trevor McGrath
Craig Breen will take on World Rally Spain next week gunning for his second World Rally crown in two years. The Irish driver seized the inaugural FIA WRC World Rally Academy last November in spectacular style on Wales Rally GB and now he is but one step from the 2012 FIA WRC Super 2000 title.
With just one week to go before the title showdown, Craig says, “I’m delighted to be in this position but the loss we all suffered in June has left a hole that will never be filled.”
Breen began the SWRC season with a maiden win on the opening round on Rallye Monte Carlo and backed up that performance by securing second in the category on World Rally Sweden. Leaving a snow covered Karlstad in February the Ford Fiesta S2000 driver held a comfortable 18 point advantage over is main rival P-G Andersson.
The championship moved to gravel for the first time in March with a trip to the Algarve for World Rally Portugal. A frequent happy hunting ground for the Irish driver turned to disappointment with his first non-finish of the year.
“We got off to the perfect start on the Monte and our second place finish in Sweden put us in a strong position early in the year. Succumbing to the conditions in Portugal was a disappointment; for sure we wanted to keep our run going.”
At the beginning of the year Craig nominated Rally New Zealand (Rd 4) as his dropped round and following the tragic accident in Sicily he made a poignant return to rallying in Finland (02 – 04 August). The event looked like a fairy-tale comeback until the penultimate hurtle, which saw him crash out on the famous Ouninpohja stage.
“It was only with the full backing of Gareth’s family and the support of my parents that I decided to return in Finland. There was a huge amount of emotions all through the event. I was disappointed not to finish but just being there was a big step.” says Craig as he looks back at the difficult time.
Wales Rally GB beckoned in mid-September and saw Breen who was now partnered by fellow Irishman Paul Nagle return to the winner’s podium. It was another poignant event for Craig as he competed for the first time in Wales since Gareth’s death but the 22-year-old put his emotions to one side and pulled off a great victory rejuvenating his title hopes.
World Rally France brings us up to date and Breen’s championship ambitions got the ultimate boast as the season return to tarmac. The event turned in favour of the Ford driver on the final day when he grabbed the lead and held out to take his third win of the season.
“Our two recent wins have transformed our season. I found Wales Rally GB very difficult but that win gave me great confidence. It’s a little different this year going into the final event, twelve months ago I had a mountain to climb but this year I’m leading so the tables have turned. The one constant is my preparation; I’ve been training very hard since my last event. I leave for Spain on Sunday and there will be no stone unturned in the quest for world title number two.”