Irishman Craig Breen has said triumphing on the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally would be a dream come true for him.
Number one seed Breen is the resounding favourite to win the Easter weekend competition, which gets under way in Belfast on Thursday.
The Waterford man is currently tied for second place in the European Rally Championship standings with Frenchman Robert Consani but says his title ambitions will be put to one side on his home round of the series. Now in his second full season as a Peugeot Sport works driver, the 25-year-old believes that he has the complete package. “I will be doing everything in my power to win it,” declared Breen.
“The Championship goes out the window when we go to the Circuit. It’s such a special rally, it’s my home round, so I want to do well.”
Breen goes into the Circuit on the back of a morale boosting victory on Rally Leipaja in Latvia at the beginning of February and says it is proof that the car troubles he had last season have now been completely resolved by his team of engineers. Mechanical woes ended his pursuit of 2014 Circuit winner Esapekka Lappi early on the second day when his 208 T16 ground to a halt.
“We have had no problems mechanically with the car in Austria or Latvia, and touch wood that will continue,” said Breen, a former winner of the S2000 World Rally Championship. “Winning in Latvia was a big boost for me and it also showed that the car is capable of getting results.
in the European Championship. It’s important my rivals are aware of that and I hope to build on that success by winning the Circuit.”
Joining Breen an the Circuit of Ireland will be current points’ leader and LOTOS Rally Team driver Kajetan Kajetanowicz. The four-time Polish national champion has been busy testing in his native homeland ahead of the Ulster Automobile Club competition and says he is quietly confident.
“We will do our best to extract everything from our car and use our strengths to build up confidence,” he explained.
Fellow ford Fiesta R5 driver Alexy Lukyanuk - who is regarded as one of the most spectacular drivers in the FIA ERC - will make a rare Tarmac appearance on the Circuit, while charismatic Frenchman Robert Consani will debut his stunning new Citroen DS3 R5.