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Breen and Devine go from Tarmac tussle to do battle in Euro series

 

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Busy boy: Craig Breen will combine European rallies with some WRC outings

Busy boy: Craig Breen will combine European rallies with some WRC outings

Busy boy: Craig Breen will combine European rallies with some WRC outings

They were close rivals on Irish roads last season and now Craig Breen and Callum Devine are set to go head-to-head again, this time in the European Rally Championship.

Breen, who makes his return to the World Championship with Hyundai in Sweden next week, will drive a Hyundai i20 R5 in the ERC series which begins with the Azores Rally next month.

The Hyundai will be run by the Italian BRC Racing team and will be backed by the Indian tyre manufacturer MRF as part of their rally development programme.

Devine, who finished third behind Breen and Alastair Fisher in the 2019 Irish Tarmac Championship, had already confirmed his plans to contest the European series. Named Motorsport Ireland's International Driver of the Year, he will also be on board an R5 Hyundai.

Breen finished second in the ERC in 2015, driving for Peugeot before being recruited by Citroen to partner Kris Meeke in the World Championship. Like the Dungannon driver, he was dropped at the end of the 2018 season and returned home to win the premier Irish championship as well as a number of European rallies.

He also made two WRC appearances for Hyundai who have called him up again to replace Sebastien Loeb in Rally Sweden, where he finished second in 2018.

Last year, Breen also worked with MRF on product development in its bid to run the WRC's control tyre from 2021 onwards. They were turned down and have now switched their attention to the European series with Breen spearheading their programme.

The ever-busy Breen, who won the Circuit of Ireland in his two previous European campaigns with Peugeot, said: "It will be a great adventure to get back to some rallies I have done in the past - along with some new rallies."

The Indian tyre company has been involved in Irish rallying for the past couple of seasons with former champion Eugene Donnelly contributing to the development strategy with his Proton Iriz in the Tarmac Championship.

The decision to allow Rally Sweden to take place next week despite a lack of snow will be good news for Breen, who is scheduled to partner Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville for his first WRC outing of the year, and also Jon Armstrong, the former World 'virtual' rally champion.

The Fermanagh driver will be doing it for real again after signing up for the Junior WRC series in which he will drive a Ford Fiesta R2T. He has been in Finland this week acclimatising himself to the car on snow.

Belfast Telegraph