12 April 2014
ERC: Craig Breen, Peugeot – Q&A
Craig Breen broke his ERC winners duck in Greece last month and will now be aiming to win again on home soil on the Circuit of Ireland Rally
Craig Breen looks ahead to the Circuit of Ireland Rally, his home round of the ERC, where he will be gunning for another win in Peugeot's all-new 208T16 after his breakthrough success on the Acropolis....
Craig, how will you prepare for the Circuit of Ireland Rally?
We have a test near Monaghan on Monday so I'll be heading up there on Sunday night to prepare and be in the best possible frame of mind. After the test the week will unfold like normal but now I'm trying to treat it like any other rally, just like I did on the Acropolis. That will mean going back over the tests, looking at all the set-up sheets, see what we've changed and just try to pick out some interesting points that we can try on Monday's test.”
Do you feel winning the Acropolis has lifted the weight off your shoulders?
I tried so hard last year to get a victory. If I hadn't won the Acropolis and if all eyes were on me to try to get my first victory on the Circuit, then it would have been a whole lot more difficult. But getting one under my belt I'm feeling more relaxed knowing I have both the speed and consistency you need. But I'd do anything to win this rally.
Your outing on the Circuit of Kerry last week didn't go entirely to plan when you went off the road, but was it still a useful exercise?
Our test was fantastic, definitely the upside of the week. We'd driven on the best road I'd ever seen in my life. Everything went perfectly in the test but in the rally it was a simple mistake. We just got stuck but we'd probably learned everything we needed to learn by the time we finished the test, although I was a little bit embarrassed.
So what about the battle for victory on the Circuit – will it be another close fight?
I'd love to think I'll be able to run away with it but I know it's going to be a tough fight. Kevin Abbring, my team-mate, was leading in Greece on Tarmac and will definitely be a thorn in my side. Then you've got Esapekka Lappi and Sepp Wiegand from ŠKODA. The last time the Circuit ran there was a big fight at the front and when you're pushing at ten-tenths on narrow, bumpy lanes with big jumps you can only look forward to it.
What can first-time visitors to Northern Ireland expect when they arrive for the rally?
We're a rally-made country. Okay, we're going through a financial crisis, but Ireland in the boom had more World Rally Cars than anywhere else in the world, which speaks volumes for such a small place. We're very proud of our roads and the Circuit takes up a massive chunk of history in our country and people from all over come to watch it. The roads are amazing, some of the best in the world. Everybody talks about the jumps in Finland and flying in the forests, but when you are flying on Tarmac you have to be that much more sharp, that much more precise – there's no better feeling than that. The stages will be close to Belfast, a beautiful city and you'll have service in the Titanic Quarter. It will be a real flagship event.
Food and drink-wise what would you recommend?
A pint of Guinness and steak and chips. Obviously you won't be drinking before you drive but my Peugeot Rally Academy mechanics had this after the test and they seemed happy.
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