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Craig Breen can’t wait to begin Rally1 era as he returns to WRC roster for Rallye Monte Carlo


All set: Craig Breen says Monte Carlo preparations have gone well

All set: Craig Breen says Monte Carlo preparations have gone well

All set: Craig Breen says Monte Carlo preparations have gone well

For 11 years now, Craig Breen has been inching towards this very moment in his career as a driver — a full season in the World Rally Championship with support from a proven, title-winning team.

He burst onto the scene back in 2011 when he won the WRC Academy title on the last stage of Wales Rally GB. 12 months later, he added the Super 2000 World Rally crown to his collection.

That eventually led to appearances with Citroen and Hyundai in the top tier, and, while useful, the experiences gleaned from those periods look set to count for little on the eve of the 2022 WRC season.

Taking the place of the much-revered World Rally Cars for the next three years are petrol-electric Rally1 machines — arguably the most exciting development in the WRC for a long time.

Fitted with an energy recovery system, the additional power stored in their onboard battery can be deployed in bursts. It also promises to take strategy out on the stages between crews to a whole new level.

Who will master the system and its workings quickest is the question on the lips of fans and pundits in the run up to Rallye Monte Carlo, which gets under way this evening.

So, technically, the last 11 years of Breen’s life count for very little. It is actually the last 11 weeks he has spent familiarising himself with the Puma Rally1 car with co-driver Paul Nagle that matter.

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Despite a hiccup when Breen left the road during his pre-Monte test — something the 31-year-old has been quick to laugh off — he says preparations have more or less gone according to plan.

“The team has done an unbelievable job building and developing the Puma Hybrid Rally1 and it really shows,” said Breen.

“It is by far the best rally car I have ever driven and, with the addition of the hybrid unit, it is going to add another dimension to the WRC.

“I got involved with the project quite late on but the work and effort that has gone into it is incredible.

"The public and the fans don’t realise how much effort and energy has gone into building these new Rally1 cars.

“It has been kind of a lifetime getting ready for now, and these last couple of weeks and months have been even more intense than normal. I just cannot wait to get started.”

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