Breen: Hyundai WRC return a forward step after tough 2022

Craig Breen says rejoining Hyundai for a partial World Rally Championship campaign this year is a “forward step” after a difficult 2022 campaign with M-Sport.

Breen: Hyundai WRC return a forward step after tough 2022

The Irishman has returned to the South Korean marque in the role he held from 2019-2021, sharing the third i20 N with Dani Sordo.

Breen’s return to Hyundai was among several unexpected twists of the WRC silly season, having agreed a two-year full-time deal with M-Sport at the end of 2021.

However, Breen endured a difficult time at M-Sport last season, with a third on debut at Monte Carlo and a second in Sardinia the highlights of a campaign, that featured several high profile crashes.

While Breen is set to compete only a partial season this year, the 32-year-old believes returning to Hyundai is the right move for his career.

“It is a forward step to me to be honest with you, regardless of the amount of rounds I will be doing,” Breen, who finished seventh in the WRC standings last year, told Autosport.

“Look, it is great to be back again. It was a tough year last year. It was definitely testing at times but I’m looking forward to a fresh start back at home at Hyundai.

“It is something fresh and I’m looking forward to getting the whole thing under way again. I just want to get back on form again and get some good results. It was difficult to be off the podium so many times last year, so I want to get back on form again.”

Breen confirmed to Autosport that initially there was hope his return to Hyundai would involve a full-time drive, but is happy to be sharing the third car with the experienced Sordo.

Hyundai has once again retained the services of Thierry Neuville, but the Belgian is now joined by former Toyota driver Esapekka Lappi, who will fill the void left by the M-Sport bound Ott Tanak.

Breen says the success he had driving for Hyundai from 2019-2021, which yielded four podiums from nine WRC events, including three second place finishes, was key in deciding to return to Hyundai.

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

“Absolutely [the success we had], that was the main reason for doing that [rejoining Hyundai],” Breen, who has already tested the i20 N, added.

“We had a great couple of seasons there from 2019 to the end of 2021, so it was a no brainer when the opportunity came around. I’m just glad we were able to make it work and I’m looking forward to getting started now.

"There was [talk of a full-time drive] initially but then obviously things changed, the great swings and roundabouts of the driver market, things changed towards the latter stages.

“I’m happy enough and I’m glad to be back at Hyundai again and I just want to get back to getting good results, and that is the most important thing for now.

“For sure, I need a little confidence boost as it has been a difficult year last year, so a couple of good results will be most welcome."

Breen is expected to jump in the third car for the first time at Rally Sweden (9-12 February) following confirmation that Sordo will occupy the third car at the Monte Carlo season opener next week.

World champion Rovanpera opts against running #1 in 2023

Monte Carlo Rally organisers have today announced the official entry list for the WRC season opener which revealed world champion Kalle Rovanpera has elected against running #1 on his Toyota GR Yaris for his title defence.

Instead, Rovanpera will retain #69 on his car while eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier will compete using #17, having run #1 last year virtue of winning the 2021 title.

A 75-car field will tackle the famous asphalt event including 10 Rally1 cars.

Toyota will field entries for Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans, Ogier and Takamoto Katsuta, while Neuville, Lappi and Sordo will lead Hyundai’s charge.

Tanak will headline M-Sport’s attack alongside Pierre-Louis Loubet, the pair will be listed to score manufacturer points. A third Ford Puma, run by the team, will be driven by privateer Jourdan Serderidis.

WRC2 has attracted 27 entries, featuring former WRC drivers Adrien Fourmaux, Oliver Solberg and Stephane Lefebvre. The list also includes 1993 WRC runner-up and 1994 Monte Carlo winner Francois Delecour, who will drive a Skoda Fabia RS.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

shares
comments

Bertelli to rent WRC Toyota for Rally Sweden

Hyundai reveals updated 2023 WRC challenger

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Plus
Plus
WRC
Rally Monte Carlo
Tom Howard

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

Plus
Plus
WRC
Rally Monte Carlo
Tom Howard

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Plus
Plus
WRC
Tom Howard

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

Plus
Plus
WRC
Tom Howard

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

Plus
Plus
WRC
Tom Howard

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Plus
Plus
WRC
Tom Howard

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

Plus
Plus
WRC
Tom Howard

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Plus
Plus
WRC
Tom Howard

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed