Thursday 18 January 2018

Motorsport: Final-day heroics clinch World crown for Breen

Craig Breen
Craig Breen

Irish Rally driver, Craig Breen has clinched the SWRC (Super 2000 World Rally Championship) in heroic style on the final day of World Rally Spain.

Breen secured his second consecutive world rally title after winning the inaugural FIA WRC Academy Championship a year ago.

In June, the 22-year-old suffered tragedy when his best friend and former co-driver Gareth Roberts was killed in an accident on the IRC Rally, Targa Florio.

The Waterford driver made a comeback at the World Rally Finland in August and in the closing three SWRC rounds (Wales Rally GB, World Rally France and World Rally Spain) of the season, stamped his authority on the championship when claiming a hat-trick of wins.

This weekend he completed World Rally Spain in sixth overall, equalling Sebastien Ogier's record of the highest overall finish of an S2000 car in the 2012 Championship.

After taking a commanding advantage on day one, which saw the Ford driver hold an overnight lead of 3:41, Breen adopted a marking tactic over the Saturday and Sunday stages.

Controlling from the front,he kept his arch rival, Swede P-G Andersson, at arm's length, covering every attack while preserving his car all the way through to a flourishing finish.

"Incredible, I can't believe it, you know I've asked myself questions about if I'm making the correct decision. But, for reasons I can't explain, I had to get back in a rally car immediately and I think this confirms it all. You know, we were meant to be here, we were meant to win this title and I'm so happy to have pulled it off."

The final round in the 2012 World Rally Championship was played out around the holiday resort of Salou on Spain's CostaDorada. The season-ending event held an extra twist, being the only dual surface rally of gravel (day one) and asphalt (days two and three) as the championship went all the way to the wire.

The finale to the SWRC category was expected to be a three-way battle between championship leader Breen (93 points), P-G Andersson (91 points) from Sweden and Yazeed Al Rajhi (73 points) from Saudi Arabia.

As it turned out, it was a showdown between Breen and Proton Motorsport ace Andersson, with the Irish driver ultimately holding his nerve to come out on top.

Irish Independent

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