Most people get cards and a cake to mark their birthday. Craig Breen gets to climb on board a rally car to begin his career as a Peugeot factory driver.
He turns 23 on Saturday and that coincides with the start of his European championship campaign for the French manufacturer on the Rally Liepaja-Ventspils in Latvia.
As presents go it couldn’t get much better for the World Academy and S2000 champion from Waterford.
Yet less than a year ago he was on the verge of quitting after his co-driver Gareth Roberts was killed when they crashed during the Targa Florio in Sicily.
Breen showed remarkably courage to come back and win the World S2000 title, a feat which played a major part in Peugeot signing him up for their venture into the European series.
He finds it hard to believe.
“After losing my best friend last year, it’s incredible to now reach one of the goals we shared,” he said.
“I’m 23 years old at the weekend, not long out of karting and now I’m a factory driver with Peugeot and I’m doing eight rounds of the ERC. I’m virtually speechless.”
The Latvian event represents Breen’s first full snow rally and his S2000 Peugeot 207, run by the French Saintloc team, starts at No.2, sandwiched between the Ford Fiesta of Finn Jari Katomaa and the Peugeot of French legend Francois Delecour, a former Monte Carlo Rally winner.
His aim is to get to the finish. “This is a new rally for me in conditions I haven’t really experienced before so the aim will be to get through the two days.”