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Breen preparing for what could be 'a life-changing week'

Craig Breen is one of the most highly-regarded young talents around, and having benefitted from first-hand experience of a leading WRC operation this year, the Irishman is now gearing himself up for the biggest opportunity of his career to-date...
Craig Breen is indisputably one of the most highly-rated young rallying stars around, having used the springboard of an outstanding debut season in the sport in 2009 to gain invaluable WRC-level experience with M-Sport in 2010 – and now he is building up to what he is very well aware could be 'a life-changing week'.

Last December, Breen capped an incredible 'learning year' in rallying by seeing off no fewer than 15 rivals to triumph in the prestigious Fiesta Sport Trophy International (FSTI) Shoot-out, earning him the coveted opportunity of a year's first-hand experience of a world-class operation in Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport outfit in Cumbria. Reflecting now on a season that yielded glory in FSTI, FST UK and FST Ireland, the 2009 Young Rally Driver of the Year admits it was quite a ride.

“It was tough,” the Irishman told Crash.net of his first full campaign in the sport, adding that he could nonetheless never even have dreamed of the kind of success he would achieve. “I was thrown in at the deep end, in a couple of hard championships with a lot of competition.

“It was intended as purely a learning year, to learn the concept and the set-up and the team. The big emphasis was on learning – not on winning rallies – but from the minute I got in the car I had a really positive feeling with it. I started testing in December, 2008 and my feeling in the car was always pretty natural, so I thought it would go quite well and it was looking like being a good season – but not quite as good as it turned out to be!

“What we achieved was completely beyond my expectations. We carried so much momentum from the start to the finish, everything went to-plan and it all went so quickly! We won everything – it was just perfect! The shoot-out was then just a really fantastic way to complete the season.”

Having attracted off the back of that a lucrative sponsorship deal with leading energy drinks brand Kick Energy – what he acknowledges was a 'massive' endorsement of his talent and potential, and one that has 'opened up new doors' – the 20-year-old admits that his association with M-Sport has similarly been a real boon.

“Unfortunately, because of my rallying schedule, I've only been able to get to one WRC event so far, but I've been at the workshop learning and it's been a great opportunity for me to forge a connection with M-Sport like this,” he enthuses. “I really appreciate the opportunity.

“I'm not the most mechanically-minded of people – I'm not bad, but it's not something I'm hugely comfortable with – and now I can already understand the general basics of the car, which has helped me for sure on rallies, where I can put it into practice. That's been one of the biggest things for me, as well as getting to work with a World Rally Championship team and seeing the sheer level of professionalism involved.”

The rallying schedule to which he refers has seen in 2010 what Breen describes as 'more bad times than good times', as he has found himself bereft of the traditional 'Luck of the Irish' and alongside co-driver Gareth Roberts has retired from almost as many British Rally Championship events as he has finished.


by Russell Atkins



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000
Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000
Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2
Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000
Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000
Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000
Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000
Craig Breen - Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000
Rallying star Craig Breen and grid girls at the 2010 TRAX event at Silverstone to promote new official FIA WRC video game
Irish rallying star Craig Breen at the 2010 TRAX event at Silverstone to promote new official FIA WRC video game
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Peter Weall Renault Clio
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joe bloggs - Unregistered

October 14, 2010 10:49 PM

Good Luck Craig..you deserve it. Another tremendous Irish rallying superstar in the making, great experience albeit in his second full year, Craig and Keith Cronin are both potential world beaters given the right development and works-factory opportunities. Unfortunately all their support is found privately, there is no structured development programme for young Rally drivers in Ireland in contrast to how SL and SO were found and funded in France with FFSA.



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