Q&A with Craig Breen

Craig Breen achieved a childhood ambition by winning the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally. In doing so, the Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 driver has taken the lead in the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship. What better time to ask the 25-year old Irishman three questions?

Two ERC rally wins in a row but winning your home event must be pretty special, right?

“I’d actually forgotten about Latvia. I’ve been concentrating on this event for 25 years since I was born and more closely for the last couple of weeks. I wanted to win this so badly, I can’t express in words how much I wanted to win it. Now to the come to the end to get the trophy and see all the names that went before me it just beggars belief in my eyes. Perhaps to some other people it’s just another rally but for me it just means so, so much.”

It’s another win but it was far from straightforward. Can you explain what was wrong with your car and what about that spin on the penultimate stage?

“We had a small niggly problem with the turbo which pretty much scuppered us in qualifying on Thursday and all of Friday. It was only at midday service on day two that we actually rectified the problem. To be honest with you they rectified the problem because they changed just about everything they could do. And finally after a process of elimination they fixed it for the last three stages. So we started our push and then on the second to last stage in Banbridge, just after the start, there was a fast left hand corner at a crossroads and a compression. On the first time we went through we filled the road and went away but on the second time we were a little too fast and spun and was very lucky not to do any damage to the radiator. Then on the last stage we had an overshoot about five or six kilometres into the stage. I stalled the car twice trying to get it restarted. Scott [Martin] in fairness said ‘don’t stop believing now’ and I’ll never forget that. Then it was a bit of a push from then on in.”

And aside from those technical problems, you faced a real threat from Robert Barrable. How tough was the fight before he crashed?

“Don’t get me wrong it was great. It was quite fast. Yesterday when we had the problems we took a lot of risks to keep in front. The problem wasn’t a big one but we had to overdrive in some places and had to push on quite hard. He took some time out of us but the pace was really high and I have to say Robert drove really, really well considering he hasn’t been driving for the last couple of months.”