Sun 23 Apr 2023

ERC @ 70: Breen’s five of the best remembered

Continuing the series of articles marking the FIA European Rally Championship’s 70th anniversary, is remembering Craig Breen’s achievements in the series after he tragically passed away earlier this month.

Starting out in 2013, the Irishman claimed five wins and 15 podiums from 36 ERC starts. Here are five of the best Breen moments in the European championship.

Rally Liepāja 2013 (top): Breen’s European adventure begins in the Latvian snow. With David Moynihan co-driving, Breen wins the first five stages in his Peugeot 207 S2000 before settling for second behind Jari Ketomaa’s more potent Ford Fiesta RRC.

Acropolis Rally 2014 (below): Having upgraded to Peugeot’s all-new 208 T16 R5, Breen moves in front after five stages and remains in the lead to finish the legendary Acropolis with a winning margin of 8.1s.

SATA Rallye Açores 2015 (below):  The consecutive wins Breen notches up on Rally Liepāja, Circuit of Ireland and the Azores are all special for different reasons but the victory on São Miguel island – where he moves in front by winning the iconic Sete Cidades stage at the end of the penultimate day – completes an incredible run of triumphs on snow, asphalt and gravel. Had his car held together on the next two events, Breen would surely have become European champion that year.

Circuit of Ireland 2016 (below): It could have been argued that Breen had no business lining up for the 2016 Circuit of Ireland having already secured his dream graduation to the top of the sport with Citroën. But winning his home round of the ERC once wasn’t enough, nor was the prospect of not taking part on a rally he’d followed avidly as a child. After many strings were pulled and favours called in, Breen secures his entry and promptly takes the victory to move ahead of his all-time hero Frank Meagher on the list of Circuit winners. Two events later, Been lands his maiden WRC podium with third in Finland to underline his star quality.

Rallye International du Valais 2015 (below): The one that got away in so much that Breen and then co-driver Scott Martin did all the hard work. They’d led from the start, win 10 stages and reach the final control almost a minute in front. Post-event checks would then reveal their Saintéloc-run Peugeot Rally Academy team had inadvertently used more tyres than the regulations allow. The subsequent two-minute penalty drops the on-the-road winners to second.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM