Motorsport: Breen bullish over title chances as gap narrows
Craig Breen's confidence is sky-high heading into the penultimate round of the WRC Academy series at Rally de France Alsace this weekend, but the Waterford ace knows he needs another exceptional performance to take the title fight to the final round of the championship.
Breen finally converted his season-long string of fastest stage times into a series win at the last round in Germany, his first victory in the new flagship series for up-and-coming stars on the world rallying calendar.
In the process he halved the lead of series leader Egon Kaur of Estonia from 52 points to 26, but Breen needs another top result this weekend. "The title fight is wide open," says the 21-year-old.
With up to 30 points on offer for a win, it's still a tall order for Breen, but this weekend's second consecutive outing on tarmac is always likely to suit an Irish driver who cut his teeth in European karting.
The fact that Breen has been the pace-setter throughout the series is also likely to play on Kaur's mind, but the Estonian has the comfort of a considerable points cushion and the knowledge that the final event, Rally GB in November, is a loose-surface event.
Further up the starting order in Alsace, Kris Meeke will be looking forward to a trouble-free run for the Mini team after enduring niggling reliability issues of late.
Meeke's last outing at Rally Germany ended on the penultimate stage with a minor electrical glitch but this year's limited foray into the WRC is seen as very much an exploratory outing for the nascent Mini squad.
Given that, Meeke will surely enjoy another run on tarmac, where the Mini seems particularly nimble.