Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Hot shot Breen gearing up to be star attraction

He's just 19 but he — or more accurately his car — will be the centre of attention when the Galway International fires up for the start of the new Irish rally season tomorrow.

Craig Breen is the first driver to bring one of the new breed of Super 2000 Ford Fiestas to Ireland and its performance over the next two days will be viewed with avid interest.

How young Breen and the Fiesta measure up to the established Mitsubishi and Subaru production cars of the likes of Keith Cronin, Alastair Fisher, Jonny Greer and Richard Cathcart may well determine the speed with which other drivers migrate to S2000.

The Fiesta, developed by Ford’s World championship M-Sport team, has made just two appearances in public so far, resulting in Mikko Hirvonen winning the Monte Carlo Rally and victory for Nasser Al-Attiyah on the Qatar Rally.

Now it is Breen’s turn and although it is highly unlikely he will win in Galway, his and the car’s performance will be closely scrutinised by his closest rivals.

“You can be sure we’ll be keeping an eye on Craig’s times,” said Fisher.

“It may be early days for him and the car but we’ll all want to know where we stand in comparison.

“We all know S2000 is the future but it is a big and expensive step that few of us are ready to make just yet.”

Breen has only been able to fit in two test sessions with the car so far but is already impressed with its performance.

“We covered about 70 km up on the first day on gravel and came away with a much better understanding of the handling. This set us up perfectly for our first tarmac test on Monday,” explained the Waterford teenager.

“From the start I could feel the potential of the car.

“The power, stability and maneuverability of the car is unbelievable and I just can't wait for the first stage in Galway,” he added.

In his full rally season last year, Breen completed a hat-trick of successes in Ford’s two-wheel-drive Fiesta championships and is now an apprenticeship at M-Sport’s headquarters in Cumbria.