Tuesday 24 October 2017

Motorsport: Red-hot Breen looks to catch sponsors' eyes with starring role in Shootout

Declan Quigley

After scoring his best result yet at WRC level in Rally Finland 10 days ago, Craig Breen is back in Scandinavia this weekend for the Pirelli Star Driver Shootout.

Having finished 19th in Finland, the Waterford driver will represent Ireland in the northern European leg of the prestigious competition.

Running in conjunction with the Snapphane Rally in Hassleholm, Sweden, on Saturday, competitors will do battle over five gravel special stages, with the winning driver the one who amasses the most points rather than the lowest aggregate time.

Breen, winner earlier this year of a 12-month work experience contract with M-Sport (the Ford World Rally Team), is vying for a fully sponsored season of competition in the World Rally Championship.

One of a rich crop of emerging talent, Breen burst onto the scene last season when he secured the National Junior Rally Championship, a hat-trick of Fiesta Sport Trophy Championships and ended the season winning the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award.

This season, he has stepped up to compete in a Ford Fiesta S2000 in both the Irish Tarmac and British Rally Championships.

Meanwhile, Derek Tohill's bid for glory in the European Rallycross Championship remains on course heading to the eighth event of the season in Germany this weekend.


Tohill's second outright Division 2 win this season, in Belgium last Sunday, has propelled the Dubliner to within six points of the series lead ahead of this weekend's event in Esterling near Hamburg.

With series leader and reigning champion Knut Ove Borseth, of Norway, only able to manage fifth place last weekend, Tohill has leapt back into contention.

However, the championship prognosis is not so good for defending Intercontinental Rally Challenge champions Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, whose season of woe continued in Rally Madeira last weekend.

The Peugeot UK crew were running second behind eventual winner Freddie Loix when an oil leak forced their retirement. Loix's victory moves him level with Meeke on five victories on the list of all-time IRC event winners.

But Meeke's fifth non-finish from eight events all but ends his hopes of back-to-back title wins in the prestigious championship, though he has refused to throw in the towel until it is a mathematical impossibility to retain his title.

"I have to be pleased with my performance because I don't think I've ever driven as well on a Tarmac rally as I did at the weekend," he said.

Irish Independent

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