Nagle retirement announcement still feels strange, admits Breen

Irishman Craig Breen says the thought of not having Paul Nagle sitting alongside him beyond this month’s Rally Spain will be “strange”.
Nagle retirement announcement still feels strange, admits Breen

In a fortnight’s time, Nagle will bring the curtain down on a career that has spanned 18 years during which time he has earned five top-flight victories and 18 podium results.

The Irish pair first joined forces in 2012 following the death of Breen’s then team-mate Gareth ‘Jaffa’ Roberts in a fatal accident. That same year, they clinched the SWRC title and subsequently progressed to the European Rally Championship before Nagle spilt to join forces with Meeke. 

The 44-year-old resumed calling notes for Breen back in 2019 after parting ways with Kris Meeke the previous season when their contract with Citroen Racing was dissolved following an accident on Rally de Portugal. 

Rally Spain will be Nagle’s 102nd and last start as a World Rally Championship navigator and has labelled his involvement as “one hell of a rollercoaster”, adding: “To Craig and Kris, thank you both for making the dream happen. We have made amazing memories.” 

Talk of stepping away started following June's Rally Italia Sardegna where Breen and Nagle equalled their career-best result together of second overall – but Breen said he is still trying to process the news even though he fully backs the decision. 

“Most of you will have seen the other day that Paul has decided to call time on his career in the WRC after Rally Spain this year,” M-Sport Ford driver Breen wrote on social media. 

“I have to say, even though it’s been something I’ve known for a while now, it still feels strange thinking this next event will be our last together at this level.

“Paul and I have worked on and off now for 10 years. He was the one that took on one of the most difficult tasks in getting me back on my feet after losing Jaffa, a role that went above and beyond his call of duty.

“We went on our separate ways for a few years before joining back up in 2019 in Eyre Square in Galway, right back near the bottom ring of the ladder,” he continued. 

“The last couple of years have been amazing: six podiums in the WRC until now, the Irish Tarmac Championship, two Sanremo Rally victories, a win in Ypres plus many more.

“But above all on a sporting side, Paul has been like a brother to me throughout. We’ve shared so many highs and lows, both inside and outside the car, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it.” 

Breen - who is currently sitting sixth overall in the World Rally Championship drivers’ standings - is expected to announce Nagle’s replacement in the coming days.

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