Hyundai driver Craig Breen praised MRF’s tires following his third place at last weekend’s Itäralli in Finland.
Breen drove a Hyundai i20 R5 on the third round of the Finnish Rally Championship, giving MRF’s development snow tyre its competitive debut.
He will return to the European Rally Championship this season as part of MRF’s program.
“When you think this tire didn’t even exist a couple of months ago, what the guys at MRF have done in such a short space of time is pretty incredible,” Breen told DirtFish.
“The tire worked well, we didn’t lose any studs and the grip was there.
“I’m very happy with the way MRF has worked through the development of the tire and improved on the margin in comparison to the reference tire.
“It’s good when you consider we were up against brands which are proven in these conditions against cars and drivers who really know what this event’s all about.”
Breen was making his debut on Itäralli and admitted it was unlike any other winter rally he’d done.
Based in Joensuu, north-east of Jyväskylä towards the Russian border, the five-stage, 60-mile rally was run in near perfect conditions.
“What a fantastic rally,” said Breen. “We had [temperatures between] minus 12 and minus 15 [centigrade] pretty much the whole time and just perfect blue skies. It was fantastic.
“To be able to really use the tyres, to lean on the snowbanks, it all worked so, so well. And fast roads, probably the fastest stages I’ve driven on in my life in these conditions, quite different to anything else we’ve done. It was such a lot of fun.”
Breen was running an older specification i20 R5 in Finland but will have the evolution version in time for his return to the ERC at the Azores Rally at the end of the month.
Itäralli winner Emil Lindholm will join Breen on MRF tyres for four ERC rounds this season.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to expand my career to ERC rallies with MRF and an important step in my career to get the experience of a more international rallying scene,” Lindholm told DirtFish.
“From what I’ve seen this weekend – in Itäralli – with Breen behind the wheel, MRF is really serious and already has a great product for winter.
“I’m in no doubt they’ll deliver on the events in ERC and keep on pushing with the development. Personally, I hope I can support MRF with knowledge especially about winter conditions, but also serve them in the development of their complete tyre range.”
Breen was co-driven on the event by John Rowan, with his regular navigator Paul Nagle busy christening his son Leon. DirtFish would like to take this chance to offer belated congratulations to Paul and his wife Cathy on the latest addition to Team Nagle.