Craig Breen comes on board with Kris Meeke at Citroen
Circuit of Ireland winner Craig Breen is to join Kris Meeke in the Abu Dhabi Citroen team on selected rounds of the World rally championship next season.
This week, Meeke signed a new three-year deal which will see him lead the test programme for Citroen's 2017 WRC car as well as contest an as yet unspecified number of rallies with satellite team PH Sport in 2016. Now it has emerged that European championship runner-up Breen will be part of the squad too.
Rally Argentina winner Meeke will kick off the season on the Monte Carlo Rally in January where he will be joined by young French driver Stephane Lefebrve before he will be part of a three-car team alongside Breen and Khalid Al Qassimi for round two of the series in Sweden.
Citroen have given no further details of the programme after Sweden except to say it will involve European-based rounds of the championship and PH Sport will run up to three cars in the selected events.
It is an enormous step up for Breen, the former World S2000 champion from Waterford who has been part of sister company Peugeot's Academy scheme for the past two years, primarily contesting the European series.
He missed out on the title both times, mainly due to reliability problems with their 208 T16, despite winning three times this year and having another win taken away on a technical error by the French Sainteloc team. He also made a number of World championship appearances with the R5 Peugeot but again he was not rewarded with the wins his speed suggested.
However, his performances have not gone unnoticed and he is now being given the chance by Citroen to move to the highest level, making his debut in a full WRC-specification DS3 in the snow of Sweden.
He described it as a "wonderful opportunity" and tweeted "the first part of the dream has come true. Roll on Sweden".
Breen should feel at home, joining a PH Sport squad that, as well as Meeke, also includes Al Qassimi's Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson and Meeke's partner Paul Nagle from Killarney.