Craig Breen's successful comeback

Craig Breen's successful comebackFrom Chris Biewer [ 19/10/2012 ].
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Craig Breen was back behind the wheel of the Peugeot 207 Super 2000 entered by the Saintéloc Racing Team in the Sanremo Rally where he put on a stunning performance. This round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), traditionally dominated by Italian drivers, gave Craig and his co-driver Paul Nagle the opportunity to shine and they finished sixth overall despite a puncture. Their reward for this excellent result was the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy awarded to the most deserving driver of the weekend.

After two successful outings in the Circuit of Ireland and the Tour of Corsica, Craig Breen was back with the Saintéloc Racing Team for the Sanremo Rally. The Irishman was again at the wheel of the French squad’s Peugeot 207 Super 2000 up against very strong rivals consisting of the best Italian drivers and the front-runners in the IRC.

Craig made a cautious start and he then upped the pace in the ‘Ronde,’ a 44-km long stage run at night. He set the third-fastest time overall, and finished the first leg in fifth place in front of the Italian Champion, Paolo Andreucci.

“Finishing that first loop was crucial,” smiled the Irishman. “It’s the first time I’ve started a round of the IRC since the accident in the Targa Florio. For me this was already a great success.”

On Saturday, Craig continued to progress and was in fourth place at the end of Colle Langan, but a puncture in SS6 robbed him of a podium finish. “It was five hundred metres after a village where there were many spectators. I took too fine a line and I had a puncture. It didn’t prevent us from continuing to push even if the main objective was to see the chequered flag.”

Even though they were three minutes in arrears, Breen and Nagle pushed even harder. In the last three stages the Irish crew set two third and one second-fastest times only 0.3secs off the scratch time. Craig and Paul saw the flag in sixth place.

“I’m really happy to have reached the finish in the Sanremo Rally,” said Craig. “It was a pretty difficult week for me. It’s the first time I was back in the cockpit of a Peugeot 207 Super 2000, and the first time I returned to Italy since the accident. Racing on the same type of terrain reminded me of that day in June. I’m happy with my performance,” he continued. “It’s a pity we punctured as we could have finished in fourth or fifth place.”

Craig Breen’s performance was rewarded by the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy. “It’s an honour. Colin was one of the greats in rallying. My ambition is to follow his example. I’d like to thank the organizers of the IRC, the rally, the Saintéloc Racing Team and my co-driver this weekend, Paul Nagle.”

Vincent Ducher, the Saintéloc Racing Team’s rally manager added: “Craig put on an extraordinary performance this weekend. It wasn’t easy for him. He showed great professionalism by coming through this test with flying colours. His co-driver, Paul Nagle should also be associated with this success. Craig deserved the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy. We’re very happy. Our Peugeot 207 Super 2000 was quick and reliable. He was able to get the best out of it and set excellent times. He could have finished on the podium if he hadn’t had that puncture. It’s only a matter of time…”

The Saintéloc Racing Team will enter the Irishman in another rally in the Peugeot 207 Super 2000 in the future (to be announced).