*Irish rally star to compete with backing from Citroën and MICHELIN
*Last year’s ERC runner-up bids for back-to-back wins on Belfast-based event
Craig Breen will return to FIA European Rally Championship action next month (7-9 April) when he competes on the Circuit of Ireland Rally, aiming to repeat his victory of 2015.
Runner-up in the ERC standings last year after spending three seasons in the series, Breen is now competing at the top level of the World Rally Championship in a Citroën. The French manufacturer and tyre supplier MICHELIN will support Breen’s participation on the Tarmac spectacular, which is the second round of the ERC season.
Based in Belfast, the Circuit of Ireland is one of the oldest rallies in the world and will celebrate its 85th anniversary this year. It features on the ERC calendar for a third consecutive season in 2016 and was one of three ERC events that Breen won in 2015.
For his bid to take back-to-back wins on the rally, the 26-year-old will drive a Citroën DS3 R5 prepared by Belfast outfit DGM Sport, which fields similar cars for drivers in British and Irish championships.
Breen will be the second star driver from the WRC to make a guest appearance in the ERC in as many events, after Mads Østberg competed on the season-opening Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés earlier this month. The Norwegian had a narrow lead when he crashed out on the final stage of the first leg.
He said: “My world championship programme takes preference this year but the Circuit of Ireland is very close to my heart and I really wanted to come back and try to win it again. My friends and supporters from Waterford and beyond were also desperate for me to do the rally and it is with their help that we have been able to make it happen. I love the rally, I love its rich heritage and I love the magnificent trophy which goes to the winner – I want to bring it back to Waterford for another year.”
ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley added: “It is fantastic to see that Craig will be back in the ERC on the Circuit of Ireland. His win last year was one of his many highlights during his time in the ERC when he showed he is one of the best up-and-coming drivers, something he has already proven again since stepping up to the WRC for this year. I’m sure that, with the backing of Citroën and MICHELIN, Craig will be a tough contender even though he will be up against a very strong field of R5 cars. With his desire to compete on the event again this year and Mads Østberg’s recent appearance in Gran Canaria, it’s clear that the challenging rallies that make up the ERC are attractive to some of the world’s best drivers.”
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