Belfast Telegraph

Monte Carlo drive with Peugeot for in-demand Craig Breen

By Sammy Hamill

Craig Breen will continue to spearhead the Peugeot Academy team in next year's European Rally Championship, a series which includes the Circuit of Ireland at Easter.

But Breen's programme with the French manufacturer will also include seven appearances in the WRC2 division of the World championship, starting with the Monte Carlo Rally next month.

It was former World S2000 champion Breen who scored the first victory for Peugeot's new R5 class 208 T16 when he won the Acropolis Rally in Greece this year. But the rest of his ERC campaign was dogged by mechanical issues including a disappointing retirement from his home round back in April.

He ended the ERC series in third place but remains Peugeot's lead driver with a substantially enhanced programme for 2015.

"I'm delighted to be continuing with Peugeot Sport in 2015 when our priority will be the ERC title," said 24-year old Breen.

"The past year hasn't been easy. We were down on luck and it was the 208 T16's debut season but now all the ingredients are in place.

"It's going to be a busy year because my programme also includes seven WRC2 outings"

And there is an early start for Breen who kicks off his ERC programme with the snowy Janner Rally on January 4-6.

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso effectively decided to leave Ferrari more than a year ago.

That is the claim of Flavio Briatore, who has played a leading role in the Spanish driver's management throughout his illustrious career.

After five years in red, Alonso decided to return to McLaren for 2015 to spearhead the British team's new works Honda era.

But Briatore says Alonso basically made his mind up to leave Ferrari in 2013.

"It was a gentlemen's agreement with Luca di Montezemolo," he said. "'If the (2014) car is not up to it, adios'. Fernando was tired of the usual refrain: 'You'll see, the next one will be a winning car'."

Full Rally programme: ERC: Jan 4-6 Jännerrallye (Austria), Feb 6-8 Rally Liepaja (Latvia), Apr 2-4: Circuit of Ireland, Jun 4-6 Rallye Açores (Portugal), Jun 25-27 Ypres Rally (Belgium), July 17-19 Rally Estonia, Aug 28-30 Barum Czech Rally Zlin, Oct 9-11 Rally of Greece, Nov 5-7 Tour de Corse.

WRC: Jan 22-25 Monte Carlo Rally, May 21-24 Rally Portugal, July 2-5 Rally Poland, Jul30/Aug 2, Rally Finland, Oct 1-4 Rally France, Oct 22-25 Rally Spain, Nov 12-15 Rally GB.

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