Robert Barrable aiming for podium at Circuit of Ireland Rally
Published 09/04/2014 | 02:30
European championship leader Craig Breen may be No.1 seed and favourite to win next week's Circuit of Ireland Rally but another Irish driver is aiming to join him on the podium at the finish.
Robert Barrable, a top young racing star turned rally driver, is ranked fifth in the starting line-up but thinks he has a top three finish in him.
From Swords, just outside Dublin, Barrable is contesting the WRC2 series in the World championship and is just home from a strong sixth place finish (16th overall) in the Rally of Portugal in the Tunnocks Ford Fiesta R5 he shares with co-driver Stuart Loudon.
"I love the Circuit and I'm glad we've been able to add it to our programme," said 26-year-old Barrable.
"It is a rally I've done four times and the last time in 2012 I finished sixth overall in a Skoda Fabia S2000. The Fiesta R5 is even better suited so I'll be aiming to better that result, even though it won't be an easy task.
"But I'd like to think I have improved since 2012 and I believe we have a podium finish in us. We'll certainly be giving it our best."
A major disappointment is the absence of Bryan Bouffier, the former French champion who finished second to Breen on the Acropolis Rally.
At the post-rally press conference in Greece, he claimed he was coming to Ireland to get his revenge. But a crash on the shakedown stage for last weekend's Sanremo Rally saw him pull out of the Italian event and now he is set to miss the Circuit too, citing budgetary problems.
But Breen, who also crashed in his warm-up event, the Circuit of Kerry, and Skoda's Esapekka Lappi, the top two in the European standings, will go head to head at the April 17/19 event, based at Belfast's Titanic Quarter.