Despite his impressive performances in recent weeks, Craig Breen will not be one of the drivers to be assessed by Volkswagen as they prepare to enter the World rally championship.
The German manufacturer is using selected WRC events this year to trial young drivers ahead of their return to the series with a newly developed 1.6 litre turbocharged VW Polo and Breen had put his name forward.
With his WRC Academy victory in an R2 Fiesta on Rally Finland followed by seventh place overall and top privateer in his S2000 Fiesta on last weekend’s Intercontinental Challenge round in the Czech Republic, the 2010 Ulster Rally winner looked a prime candidate – especially for Rally GB. But the 21-year-old from Waterford has been told he is not under consideration. VW have given no reason although it is suspected he may be seen as too closely associated with Ford.
“I was disappointing but it just encouraged me to put in an even bigger effort and I was happy that I could show my pace and potential with my performances on Rally Finland and the Barum Rally,” said Breen.
VW have given no reaction to a recent poll conducted by official World championship website wrc.com asking fans to vote for the drivers they think deserve to be included in the assessment programme.
The worldwide poll was topped by Marty McCormack, the 24-year-old from Draperstown who leads the British F2 championship and earlier this month on the Ulster Rally became the first driver to score maximum BRC points in a two-wheel-drive car.
Meanwhile, there was a final twist in the Barum Rally tale for Breen’s fellow Irish driver Robert Barrable.
He finished 13th in his Skoda Fabia but was later excluded after his time cards were lost. “There was a real melee at the finish with thousands of fans milling around and the cards just disappeared from the car,” he said.
“I may not be in the final results but everyone knows I finished the rally and I gained a lot of experience from it.”