Craig Breen says it would be a dream come true if he could add his name to the winner's trophy of the Circuit of Ireland Rally as he prepares for the third round of the FIA European Rally Championship.

The championship returns to Ireland for the 18 stage asphalt rally which runs between 2-4 April, circling around its headquarters at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. 53 cars are expected to start the rally, including 18 drivers headlining the event in R5 and Super 2000 cars.

After Breen was forced to retire due to an accident at the 2015 season opener is Austria, the Irish driver bounced back in strong style by taking victory in Latvia. Coupled with championship leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz's retirement at round two, just five points separate them at the top of the drivers' standings. French driver Robert Cosani is on equal footing with Breen on 40 points, making it a three-way battle for the championship.

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Therefore, whichever one of these three drivers leave Ireland on top will almost certainly lead the championship after three rounds and Breen feels anything less than victory in Ireland would be a disappointment.

"If it were any other event, I'd say as long as we scored a good haul of points [I'd be happy]," Breen said. "But I've got a big thing in my heart for the Circuit of Ireland."

Despite racing in his birth nation the Peugeot driver doesn't feel he has any advantage on the Irish tarmac over his direct rivals but will get a boost from the home crowds.

"I haven't got any more home advantage on the Circuit than I have with any of the other events I did last year," Breen said. "I live a four-hour drive away on the other side of the country, and while it's not the biggest island in the world, I don't spend any time up where the rally takes place. When I arrive to do the recce it will be the first time I've been on the stages since last year.

"Of course it is more comfortable when you're at home and a lot of my friends and family will be there. The support you get from the fans, that's where the home advantage will come from."

12 months ago the Irish driver suffered heartbreak after being forced to retire from the Circuit of Ireland Rally on stage 11 with engine cooling problems in his Peugeot 208 T16 R5. The 25-year-old is determined to make amends and is looking to his hero Frank Meagher to inspire him to victory.

"I remember going to watch the event as a kid as it passed Waterford," he said. "My absolute hero and inspiration was Frank Meagher, who won the Circuit of Ireland in 1992. It's always been a dream of mine to follow my hero and put my name on the winner's trophy too."