This week Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team driver Craig Breen returns to the World Rally Championship and heads to the island of Corsica for his fourth outing of 2016 using a Citroen DS3 WRC. Run by PH Motorsport the team will enter two cars at the Tour de Corse, the French round of the World Rally Championship. Team-mate Kris Meeke and Craig will be tasked with keeping up the team’s run of good results having taken first and third places on the podium at their last event in Finland.
Returning to the WRC calendar in 2015, the Tour de Corse remains one of the world’s most famous rallies! Held between September 30th and October 2nd, the 59th edition looks set to be especially demanding, with 390.92km of timed stages taking in Ajaccio, Bastia and Porto-Vecchio. With the exception of the Power Stage, the stages are notable for their length, all lying between 30 and 50km.
Last year proved to be a very difficult event for everyone when torrential rain and the cancellation of some of the stages made conditions treacherous over the slippy asphalt. For Kris Meeke and his co-driver Paul Nagle it will mark a return to tarmac which they haven’t competed on for almost a year. Surprisingly as it turns out Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin are actually more experienced than their team-mates on the island. The Irish driver has competed at the Tour de Corse for the last four years. Sixth in 2012 in the IRC, Craig finished just shy of the podium places in the 2013 European Rally Championship round, before retiring in 2014 and finishing fourth in the WRC2 last year. This will be Craig’s big opportunity after his success on gravel to show off his speed and consistency on his preferred surface and on a rally that is known as the “Rally of 10,000 Corners”.
Before he departed for Corsica Craig was enthusiastic but very realistic: “I really love this rally. The narrow, bumpy roads at the Tour de Corse remind me of the ones you
get in Ireland and perhaps that’s why I feel so at home here. The rally format is different to what we are used to in the WRC. There is the added endurance dimension, with the first day with no service and a lot of miles to cover. We’ll have to adapt to this rhythm, staying calm on the long road sections before invoking a bit of fighting spirit at the start of the stages! That aside, we know what to expect at this rally: weather that can make tyre choice difficult, managing wear on the brakes, the need to maintain concentration on narrow, twisty 50km long stages… It’ll be difficult, starting with recce! I don’t think that there is a better place for me to contest my first tarmac rally in a WRC. Although I’m starting almost from scratch, I know that the team will do everything it can to help me feel confident. It would be unrealistic to try and match the podium from Finland; I would be delighted with a top-six finish!”