Already buoyed by signing a contract in the past week with Citroen Racing for the next two seasons, Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team driver Craig Breen returns in quick succession to the World Rally Championship and heads to the Costa Daurada holiday resort of Salou for his fifth outing behind the wheel of a Citroen DS3 WRC. Run by PH Motorsport the Abu Dhabi Total WRT will enter three cars on this occasion, Kris Meeke, Craig and Khalid Al Qassimi.
Having already scored his first WRC podium finish in Finland this year Craig will be very much hoping that after his fifth place result in Corsica recently that he will be right on the pace with his rivals again this time out. His fifth appearance at the event this is a happy hunting ground for Craig. It is the rally where he scored his first points in the WRC and in 2012 he finished sixth overall driving a Super 2000 car clinching the SWRC title.
With a mixed surface shakedown stage and the ceremonial start on Thursday, Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin head north to the streets of Barcelona where the roads there will draw thousands of spectators to a tricky 3.2km special before the weekend properly gets underway. Friday’s action is mainly gravel but asphalt sections on the long Terra Alta test will add an extra challenge. Four morning stages are repeated in the afternoon, the day only broken by a tyre fitting zone in the middle and then it’s back to Salou where the cars will be transformed into asphalt racers ahead of the second and third legs which are entirely asphalt. Saturday a mix of roads used in the opposite direction last year will be split by a mid-leg service and ends with the now regular test along Salou seafront. Sunday features just two loops of two tests, ending with the live TV Power Stage.
Speaking ahead of the event Craig said, “It’s great to be starting to prepare for the next event already. And especially since my promotion to Citroën works driver for 2017 and 2018 was announced in between times! Rally de España is a mixed-surface event and the stages are very different to those we had in Corsica last week, so we’ll have the chance to build up even more experience. It’s an event that I know well and that will help me to improve in a World Rally Car. At this stage of the season, I feel confident both on
quick gravel roads and on tarmac. So I should be able to use all the knowledge I’ve acquired and switch from one surface to the other in a relaxed frame of mind. I’m looking forward to being in Spain because I know there’ll be a lot of Irish fans there to cheer me on!”