Belfast Telegraph

Breen in sights of Galway Rally contenders

Turning back time: Craig Breen
Turning back time: Craig Breen

By Sammy Hamill

Craig Breen may as well paint a target on the back of his Ford Fiesta as he prepares for the start of the Galway Rally on Sunday.

A host of drivers are aiming to add a huge tick to their CVs by beating a genuine World Championship competitor, a man who was Kris Meeke's Citroen team-mate for the past three years and who, 12 months ago, finished second in the snow of Swedish Rally.

Though axed by Citroen to make way for fellow Circuit of Ireland winner Esapekka Lappi and World Champion Sebastien Ogier, Breen still has WRC ambitions. In the meantime, he is putting his reputation on the line by taking on the country's best home-based drivers in the opening round of the Irish Tarmac Championship.

Breen could have decided he has risen past this level, but instead he plans to "turn back time" and enjoy Irish tarmac again.

The last time he enjoyed the thrill of Irish stages was the second of his Circuit of Ireland wins in 2015 before Citroen called to take him to the World Championship. Now he steps back from the mighty factory-prepared WRC C3 he has been accustomed to and drives a privately-entered R5 Fiesta at the head of the Galway field, partnered by another Citroen exile, Paul Nagle.

They know they are there to be shot at but Breen insists it doesn't matter. "The car was available, we were available and we're just here to turn back time and enjoy ourselves," he says.

Breen could barely have chosen a tougher event to make his Irish comeback. Five present or past champions are set to compete - Josh and Sam Moffett, Gary Jennings, Declan Boyle and Donagh Kelly - alongside the likes of Alastair Fisher, Desi Henry, Jonny Greer and Manus Kelly.

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