After his starring role in Rally Estonia, it is back to the day job for Craig Breen in Italy this weekend.
The Andorra-based Irish driver served up a reminder to manufacturer team bosses that he is pitching hard for a full-time World Championship role after finishing runner-up in Estonia for a second year in a row, keeping all but Kalle Rovanpera behind him, including eight-times champion Sebastien Ogier.
He will be back in the Hyundai team for the Ypres Rally’s introduction to the WRC next month but first Breen returns to his regular role, helping to develop MRF tyres for the Indian company in the European Championship.
The Rally di Roma sees him switch from gravel to tarmac which should be ideal preparation for Ypres, where he has won in the past, although he switches from his Estonian WRC Hyundai to an R5 version.
Breen, who was second in the previous ERC round in Latvia to local driver Nikolay Gryazin, is seeded sixth in a Rome line-up which is headed by the Citroen C3 of reigning champion Alexey Lukyanuk and the Skoda Fabia of former World Championship rally winner Andreas Mikkelsen.
Breen has been joined on the trip to Italy by two Motorsport Ireland Academy-backed Ulster drivers, Callum Devine and Josh McErlean.
Meanwhile, the Kirkistown circuit opens its doors to spectators tomorrow for the first time in more than 18 months for the 500 Club’s eagerly-anticipated July race meeting.
It has a full 12-race programme highlighted by the Northern Ireland Formula Ford Championship which is currently being led by 22-year-old Jordan Dempsey, who scored back-to-back wins in the previous two rounds last month to establish a 13 point lead over 2020 champion David McCullough.
The meeting will also see the return of two former winners around the Co Down circuit with Chris Paul back in a Formula Ford again and Arnie Black making a rare appearance in the Roadsports race.