Irishman Craig Breen shone in two countries on the same weekend as he continued to make a name for himself on the rallying scene.
The Waterford-based 18-year old claimed Class 2 victory on Bournemouth's Rallye Sunseeker before jetting back to Ireland and succeeding again in the forests of Carrick-on-Suir, despite switching cars between events.
The former kart racer, who only switched to rallying late last year, contested the Sunseeker as preparation for the first round of the Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy UK, which starts in Cumbria this Saturday. but was instantly competitive. As the day progressed, Breen and Welsh co-driver Gareth Roberts upped their pace to put themselves into podium contention in the two-wheel drive category, as well as taking the lead in Class 2-Group N.
With their rivals fighting back, the result was close-run, but the pair hung on to finish third in the two-wheel drive category and seal a comfortable Class 2 victory.
"We both enjoyed the day, especially as Gareth and I bonded quickly and worked well together," Breen said, "I don't think the stages were ideal for the little Fiesta, as they were very fast and open, and, as good as the car handles, it couldn't keep up with some of the bigger and faster cars. However, we're both very happy and in good shape for the coming season."
With no time to savour the champagne, however, Breen and the team rushed back to the airport and flew home in order to contest the following day's Carrick on Suir Forestry Rally, switching to the Citroen C2R2 with which he triumphed on the Mitchelstown Rally back in February. Again, however, he was immediately on the pace.
“We were on fire," he enthused, "After Bournemouth, and my success in the opening round of the Petro Systems National Junior Rally Championship, I was feeling confident."
After the opening stage, Breen and Roberts led by six seconds over closest rivals John Byrne and Kenneth Shiels, an advantage which they then extended over the following stages to reach an unassailable two minutes in front. Such was Breen's mastery of the forest that he was able to trade times with faster cars and finish seventh overall.
"What can I say? What a weekend, perhaps...," he commented, "Things just clicked between me, Gareth and the team, right from the word 'go'. We carried our early Saturday morning pace in Bournemouth across the pond and did ourselves proud. I would like to thank Gareth, Tom Gahan and his fantastic crew of mechanics as, without their commitment and phenomenal hard work, none of this would have been possible.
“I've now taken two maximum points scoring results in the National Junior Rally Championship and things are looking good for the future.”