Breen joins rivals in switch to WRC for Donegal
Craig Breen will put his Irish Tarmac Championship ambitions on hold in an effort to win this month's Joule Donegal International Rally.
Instead of the CJJ Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 in which he has won the previous four rounds of Ireland's premier rally series, Breen is switching to a more powerful WRC Fiesta, following the trend of a number of his rivals.
Among them will be Garry Jennings, a former Tarmac champion and two-time Donegal winner, who will be in the field in his WRC Subaru for the rally on June 21-23.
He says: "You forget about the championship when it comes to Donegal, it is all about standing on top of the finish ramp in Letterkenny on Sunday evening."
It is why several other championship contenders, including Declan Boyle, Desi Henry and Sam Moffett, are switching to their WRC cars which, while they increase their chances of winning the rally outright, rule them out of scoring points for the overall Tarmac title.
Former Citroen World Championship driver Breen explained: "I thought long and hard about this choice but I have this one 'gap' year where I have set out to win all the rallies that as a child I dreamed of winning.
"Perhaps it's an unfortunate thing, but in order to be at the sharp end of Donegal, especially this year with the huge contingent of WRC cars, you need to have WRC power under your right foot.
"This coupled with the fact that it's very clear that Paul (co-driver Nagle) and I are solely focused on getting back into the World Championship, a weekend back in a WRC car albeit not the current generation, is not a bad thing. The car will be a Fiesta WRC from 2013.
"To be honest, I think a weekend with all of us fighting it out in R5 cars would be amazing - but this is the way the rules are at present."
The Donegal line-up will be headed by current three-time winner Manus Kelly who, ironically, will not have a WRC car at his disposal this year and is schedule to start in his R5 Hyundai.
Breen is seeded second ahead of Donagh Kelly, Boyle, Moffett and Jennings all in WRC cars, with Alastair Fisher, second in the Tarmac standings, the first of the R5 drivers at No.7. Reigning champion Josh Moffett is next, ahead of Henry, with Callum Devine completing the top 10 of a capacity entry list.
Joe McGonigle, Seamus Leonard, Niall Maguire and Cathan McCourt are others who will field WRC cars, making it the biggest number to feature in any round of the championship this season.
Former winner and record-equalling Tarmac champion Eugene Donnelly is in the list in a R5 Proton Iriz, a car which failed to make it to the start of the Easter Stages because of a last minute "software issue".