It’s rare that a driver sees the positive in missing two consecutive rounds of the World Rally Championship. But Craig Breen does.
The Irish driver jumped ship from Hyundai Motorsport, bound for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team after Rally Finland. His focus was firmly on testing the Puma Rally1 Hybrid which will carry him into his first ever full campaign; he wouldn’t allow himself to be distracted by what was going on in Salou and Monza as the season drew to a close.
With such a big regulation change coming, Breen felt getting to grips with the all-new hybrid system would be a better investment in time than competing on round 11 or 12.
“When I’m driving the car now everything is feeling like second nature – it’s all coming very naturally and that’s exactly what I hoped it would be like,” he told DirtFish.
“When we get to Monte Carlo, it’s going to be so important to have had time in the car and a real understanding of how it works and how to get the best out of it. I think we’re in that position now.”
Breen tested in Spain last month and has one more significant test before the end of December. After that, he leads M-Sport into its final preparations for round one in Monte Carlo.
“All of my career I’ve driven cars which have been led in one particular direction,” he said. “I don’t want to say I’ve had hand-me-downs, but the drivers ahead of me have decided what the car needs and how to get it. To now be that person who’s having a car moulded around them is really special.
“The team has been fantastic. They’ve made me and Paul [Nagle, co-driver] so welcome. They’ve come to the tests with so many ideas and so many options for the car and that’s exactly what I’d hoped for.
“Honestly, this feels like our car now.”