Despite having sat out the Romanian and Czech rounds during the summer, Craig Breen remains second in the European rally championship points standings as he returns to action this weekend in Poland.
With Skoda's Jan Kopecky 109 points ahead, the title is effectively out of reach now but it was never envisaged Breen would become European champion at his first attempt when he joined the Peugeot Academy team after winning the World S2000 title last season.
This was always planned as a learning year in the outdated Peugeot 207 while he and Kris Meeke developed the new R5 208 for 2014, but 23-year-old Breen performed above expectations with three second places in the first half of the season.
He hasn't been idle during the summer break, sharing testing duties with Meeke, but he is itching to get back into competition mode again in Poland where he will have a new co-driver. Belgian Lara Vanneste is standing in for Paul Nagle who has been called up to replace the injured Mikko Markkula alongside Andreas Mikkelsen in this weekend's World Championship Rally Australia.
"From the outset back in February, I knew I would have this time off but when you're programmed to compete it's hard sitting at home following Rally Romania and Rally Zlin when you're not involved," said the former Rally NI winner from Waterford.
"I know that this is a learning season for me both in terms of new events and my test programme with the Peugeot but there is nothing like competition to get me motivated."