Craig Breen has described last weekend’s Rally di Roma as a “great education” for him and co-driver Paul Nagle as they helped MRF develop its new tires on asphalt.
Breen is contesting this year’s European Rally Championship in a Team MRF Hyundai i20 R5 with the task of making the Indian firm’s rubber as competitive as possible.
While Breen has extensive experience with professional teams in both the World Rally Championship and ERC – having driven for manufacturers such as Peugeot, Citroën and currently Hyundai – developing a tire is a new experience for him.
Despite this, and having no prior experience of Rally di Roma, Breen finished fourth overall after a tight battle with Simone Tempestini.
He told DirtFish: “I actually really enjoyed the weekend. First of all [it was good] just to be back in a rally car again, and enjoying what I love.
“The result, I have to say, is probably more than any of us expected.
“From the very first run on free practice all the way to the very last corner on the last stage, we’ve been pretty much on the door handles.
“It’s been a great education for myself and Paul of where the limits of everything are.
“Obviously to finish fourth, for a tire that’s so, so young in its development, I have to say it’s very, very impressive. And we can only look forward to it getting better.”
Breen added it was “amazing” to think how close he got to scoring a podium, but encouraged everyone at MRF to stay motivated to keep improving.
“There’s so much scope, so much room to make it better and better,” he said.
“It’s actually very, very enjoyable to be part of that [journey] and to be able to point out the ways that it can go.
“The tire that’s on the car now is something that we kind of brainstormed after the last test.
“It was really in a good direction, so let’s try to do more of the same.”