Belfast Telegraph

Breen gutted as Citroen force him to stand aside


Snow go: Craig Breen excelled in the wintry conditions in Sweden but he will miss out on a trip to Mexico
Snow go: Craig Breen excelled in the wintry conditions in Sweden but he will miss out on a trip to Mexico

By Sammy Hamill

Craig Breen admits to being "gutted" at having to stand aside for the next round of the World Rally Championship despite a career-best second place behind Hyundai's Thierry Neuville in Sweden at the weekend.

His Citroen team had already decided the Waterford driver would make way for the return of nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb in Mexico and new sporting director Pierre Budar has confirmed they won't be changing their plans.

Budar said it was not his decision, pointing out the return of Loeb had been arranged by the PSA group's chief executive Carlos Tavares and departed team boss Yves Matton.

"He (Craig) was brilliant in Sweden and we, like him, want to build on what he has achieved, but the plan will stay as it is, we will run with Loeb in Mexico," said Budar.

And with Citroen working on a reduced budget and fielding just two cars per event this year, Breen is also scheduled to miss the following round in Corsica where once again Loeb will compete alongside Kris Meeke.

It means a two-month break for the former Circuit of Ireland winner and he isn't happy.

"There's no two ways about it, I've got to say I'm absolutely gutted not to be going to Mexico for the next round," said Breen as he reflected on his strong challenge for a first WRC victory.

"This result was just awesome. The podium in Finland a couple of years ago was special, but this time we were right up there fighting at the front and that's something new for me, and it's something I'm desperate to build on.

"I'd love to be able to move forward from here, and that has to be the aim, but sadly we're out for a while now. But obviously it's not my choice."

There is, however, a glimmer of light for Breen.

Citroen did run a third car for Mads Ostberg in Sweden, but with outside financial input, and sources suggest an attempt will be made to secure additional resources to field a third car in Corsica.

Meanwhile, Dungannon ace Meeke - who was officially a non-finisher in Sweden - will put it down as a rally to forget and focus on Mexico, where he won last year.

Loeb, of course, is a six-time Mexican winner.

Belfast Telegraph


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