Tuesday 16 January 2018

Motorsport: Buoyant Breen turns focus to Monte Carlo

Declan Quigley

Craig Breen admits that last weekend's sensational WRC Academy series win in Wales has guaranteed him at least another two seasons on the ladder to full professional status.

Having steered his Ford Fiesta to victory on the final event with 14 fastest stage times out of 17 -- the minimum necessary to win the title given his nearest rival finished second -- Breen is now certain to be taking part in next season's SWRC series.

Breen already has a Super 2000 specification Ford for the series and will be one rung closer to the top with the advantage of a €500,000 scholarship from the FIA for winning the Academy series this year.

Having already put his 2012 budget in place before last weekend's comeback that saw him needing to win the last five stages in a row to clinch the title, Breen now has the breathing space to focus on next season.

"We're going to be at the start line on Rallye Monte-Carlo in the S2000 ready to win," says the Waterford ace who was the only driver to lead every Academy event this season.

"The prize has given me most of next year's budget and I can put my own budget to the following year, so it's a guaranteed two more years in the sport I love, what better prize could there be?

"It means onwards and upwards, but this is a very small step on a big ladder and I can't wait for next season."

Breen has not had time to celebrate his achievement having flown direct to Austria from Wales for this week's trials for the FIA Institute.

The Institute offers training to develop young drivers' skills with particular emphasis on safety. A place on the panel carries considerable prestige in the corridors of power.

Meanwhile, Matt Griffin concludes his busy season of European GT racing with the final round of the Blancpain Endurance Series in Vallelunga this weekend.

With pole positions, fastest laps, a race and a multitude of podium finishes to his name in a campaign that included the British GT and the FIA GT3 series, Griffin has been strong in endurance races like the Spa 24 Hours.

At home, the success of the 'Joker' lap at last month's Motorsport Ireland RallyX Championship means the experiment will continue in Sunday's third round at Mondello Park.

The Kildare Motor Club promotion will feature the European Championship-inspired innovation where drivers use a slightly longer version of the lap, once, during each four-lap race.

Irish Independent

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