Craig Breen flies on Rally Finland shakedown as WRC return begins

Craig Breen began his World Rally Championship return with Hyundai by going third fastest on Thursday morning's Rally Finland shakedown

Craig Breen flies on Rally Finland shakedown as WRC return begins

The former Citroen driver, called up by Hyundai for what is currently a one-off outing, was second only to WRC leader and 2018 Finland winner Ott Tanak's Toyota on his first shakedown run - outpacing Hyundai team-mates Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen at that point.

Neuville ultimately got ahead of Breen on his final run, but Breen remained third fastest.

"Everything just worked this morning," Breen told Autosport.

"The car felt comfortable and, to be honest, when I saw the time at the end of the first run, I was quite surprised.

"It wasn't like I'd had this great feeling, it felt average - a good time, but I wasn't expecting that.

"But look, it's shakedown. Let's not get carried away.

"I want to get into the event and get on with it. I'm not about to start over-analysing things."

Dropped by Citroen at the end of last year, Breen has had the first half of the year to analyse things and he admitted he had emerged from his time away from the world championship with a different attitude.

"The way my mind is now and the way the whole situation is, it's just an absolute pleasure," he said.

"I feel like I'm in a good place with my mind.

"My whole world revolved around being in the World Rally Championship for so many years.

"Working through the categories to get there, at times it felt like I was on a cliff edge and I felt like life would stop if I fell off that cliff.

"But the sun rises and the alarm still goes off every morning and the days tick away like normal. It's not like the world stops if I'm not here.

"I got to do some things in the last few months while I was out of the world championship that I would never have got to do if I was still in it.

"I ate a lot and I didn't train for a month, I was lazy. I did things that I never had the time to do before.

"I got to rally back home again, which is something that's so, so close to my heart and I spent time with friends and family - people I have skipped to get here."

During his WRC absence, Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle have conducted what they've labelled their 'social rally calendar' driving cars as varied as the MG Metro 6R4 (as a course car in Killarney) and Volkswagen's Polo GTI R5, in which he won the Ypres Rally.

"This was like a full reset with my brain and it helped me to understand that this is what's waiting for me if, for some unfortunate reason, this opportunity ends at some point" Breen added.

"I understand there is life outside of the WRC. Don't get me wrong the WRC is still my whole world, it's still the be-all and end-all, but there's a whole other world waiting for me."

Finland is Breen's first WRC start since Rally Australia last November and his first start for a factory WRC team other than Citroen.

shares
comments
Sebastien Ogier says 2020 definitely his final World Rally season

Previous article

Sebastien Ogier says 2020 definitely his final World Rally season

Next article

Rally Finland WRC: Neuville in early lead from Toyota's Tanak/Meeke

Rally Finland WRC: Neuville in early lead from Toyota's Tanak/Meeke
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium Plus

How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Plus

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Plus

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021