Craig Breen's Circuit of Ireland bid given the green light
Craig Breen and his Peugeot Academy team-mate Kevin Abbring are confirmed starters for the Circuit of Ireland Rally at Easter.
Breen, the 23-year-old former World S2000 champion from Waterford, has been handed an eight-round European championship programme by the French manufacturer, starting in Latvia at the end of the month. Dutchman Abbring will take part in six rounds.
Breen, who finished third in his debut European championship year in 2013, sat out the first round of the series in Austria earlier this month but will begin his campaign on the Rally Liepaja, a snow event starting on January 31.
He will drive an S2000 Peugeot 207 pending the arrival of the new R5 version, the 208 T16, which has been extensively developed by Kris Meeke before his step up to the Citroen World championship team.
The T16 will be eligible for competition from March 1 and some will be mildly surprised to see it will make its debut in the hands of Breen and Abbring on the notoriously rough Acropolis Rally in Greece later that month.
But both drivers will then come to Belfast in mid-April for the Circuit of Ireland.
Breen's other ERC events include the rounds in the Azores, Belgium, Czech Republic, France and Corsica.
Breen and Abbring will be joined on a number of events by the third member of the Academy, 21-year-old French junior champion Stephane Lefebvre, driving an R2 Peugeot.
Meanwhile, Meeke has been testing in the south of France ahead of next week's Monte Carlo Rally where he will make his WRC debut as Citroen team leader.
"The Monte is all about dealing with the mixed conditions it can throw at you so it was good to see a real hotchpotch of snow-covered roads, slush and wet asphalt on out test route," he said.
"It was tricky – but in a good way!"