Q&A with Craig Breen

Having missed the Cyprus Rally, Craig Breen is aiming to return to his ERC winning ways on the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally. The Peugeot Rally Academy driver arrives in Greece second in the standings, 62 points behind Kajetan Kajetanowicz, but won the Acropolis last year. Fiaerc.com caught up with the Irishman ahead of what will be a crucial event.

What do you think of this year’s Acropolis Rally route, with over 200kms of stages, plus Free Practice and Qualifying all in two days?

“It’s certainly a different itinerary to the norm this year, but I am looking forward to the challenge. Having the rally start a bit later works very well for us actually, as we will be participating in the Tour de Corse the weekend before, so like this, we get to have a day at home in between! But yes it is going to be a tough event, lots of things happening in a short space of time, but it should be good fun.”

How difficult will it be to start this year’s event with the 43.41-kilometre SEAJETS Kineta-Loutraki test, and what strategy will you take into the opening test?

“That will be tough! It means you will have no time to settle in, because if you can’t get a good rhythm quickly in this stage, you could end up losing so much time. But I like it, it’s different and it presents a new challenge to everybody.”

How do the rough gravel and heat of the Acropolis Rally suit your driving style? After all, it couldn’t be more different to rallying in Ireland!

“Of course rallying in Ireland is mainly on narrow bumpy Tarmac roads, and mostly in the cold and rain I might add! Greece is a rally that I like, the roads are much faster than you imagine, and have a really nice surface in most places. I’m not sure what the weather will be like in October, but I should think a little warmer to here in Ireland!”

Last year you gave the Peugeot 208 T16 a magnificent win on its ERC debut in Greece. How confident are you of repeating that victory?

“Last year was amazing. To go there with a brand new car and to win on its debut was a dream come true. Especially given that it was a mixed surface event, it really proved that the car was a winner. I head to Greece with a lot of confidence knowing our speed last year, and hopefully some of the stages will be the same. Being realistic, we need a win there to keep our championship hopes alive, so we will be doing all in our power to do that!”

Last year you followed your rallying idol Frank Meagher by winning an ERC event. How important is it that you continue the long tradition of Irish rally success abroad?

“It’s vitally important to me. Irish rallying is incredibly close to my heart, and I will be always be proud of my roots. To be the first Irishman to win a round of the ERC since Frank Meagher was something that filled me with pride. Everyone knows how much I idolised him as a child, so again this year to win the Circuit of Ireland, 23 years after Frank won it, was something really special to me. We have a good history of producing fast rally drivers, so lets hope that we can try and carry forward this tradition!”

You’re in a great battle with Kajetan Kajetanowicz for the ERC title. What can you do to regain the momentum you had in the first half of the ERC, winning three events in a row, and regaining the lead in the series?

“Try and find some luck again! Okay, our speed wasn’t very good during some events, but generally speaking we have been right up there. If it wasn’t for the retirements in Ypres and Estonia, the championship would be looking a lot different. We just need to dig deep, push hard and beat Kajto!”