Thursday 22 March 2018

Motorsport: Win or bust for Breen in decider

Craig Breen
Craig Breen

Declan Quigley

CRAIG BREEN has no Plan B for this weekend's WRC Academy Series decider -- he simply aims to go flat out right from the start.

Breen faces a daunting challenge to overhaul championship leader Egon Kaur to achieve his main season goal, but the Waterford ace is comforted by the simplicity of the task facing him on Rally Wales GB.

"I'm going with only one strategy and that's to go all out," says Breen, who lies 20 points behind his Estonian rival in the race for the FIA's premier feeder class for aspiring professionals. "There's no big secret here as I've only got one option and that's to attack from the start.

"I know it's a big ask but the confidence is high."

Breen's pace through the five events held so far has been consistently ahead of Kaur's, but mistakes and mechanical problems have cost him dear.

With 25 points on offer for victory and a bonus point for fastest time in each of the 17 special stages, Breen still has a fighting chance of claiming victory.

However, if he wins the event and Kaur is second, then he will have to be fastest in at least 14 stages to lift the crown. His performances thus far indicate that he has the ability to pull it off, but marrying pace with consistency is far from easy on the gravel stages in Wales.

"Of all the Academy events this year I'm the only driver to hold the rally lead (on each one). My one win came on Tarmac, but on the gravel of Portugal and Finland I had the speed.

"These events are different to Wales, but the conditions we expect next weekend will be very like Rally Scotland.

"Plus Rally GB has been very good to me over recent seasons.

"Last year, I suffered problems on the first day in the S2000, but battled on to get a good result.

"I've carried out extensive testing this week and I'm now fully prepared to give it everything."

Breen's season to date has been characterised by flashes of speed laced with lapses in judgment.

He was within four stages of victory in the opening FIA Academy event in Portugal when he slipped off the road.

Round two in Sardinia turned into Fiesta R2 carnage when six crews, including Breen, were sidelined on special stage four.

Rally Finland produced the battle of the season, with Kaur edging the win by 2.6 seconds, while Breen finally registered a major points finish.

Victory finally came Breen's way on round four on tarmac in Germany, a result which catapulted him back into championship contention.

However, Breen missed a great opportunity to lead the series into the final round after crashing while leading in France.

Kaur, uncomfortable on tarmac, also retired in France, but back on his favoured gravel this weekend, the Estonian knows that second place will do him if he can add four fastest stage times.

Irish Independent

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