Craig Breen has been confirmed to drive Hyundai Motorsport’s third car at August’s Rally Finland.
The Irishman, who finished on the podium in Jyväskylä with Citroën in 2016, made a strong debut aboard an i20 Coupe WRC at the event last season. Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle will join regulars Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville in the team for the forthcoming counter.
“I love Finland,” Breen told DirtFish. “Everybody loves Finland and wouldn’t it just be the best place to re-start the season. All I’m focused on right now is doing everything I can to deliver the best possible job for Hyundai Motorsport in August.
“Whatever happens with everything else [coronavirus], I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is make sure I’m just as sharp, focused and ready as I’ve ever been – that’s what I’m working on.”
Despite having been out of WRC competition for nine months at that point, Breen led Hyundai’s assault through the opening day in Finland last year.
Running fifth and less than 10 seconds off the lead, he twice came within a second of setting fastest times (he was just 0.1s away on the first run at Äänekoski) and ultimately took a penalty to allow Neuville past and into sixth place on the final day.
“I absolutely loved it last year,” said Breen. “Paul and I really felt like we just slotted into the team really well and everything clicked. Going back this year would be that bit more straightforward with all the data we gathered with the car last year.
“On top of that, we’ve seen the i20 getting even quicker since Finland last season with things like the new aero and other evolutions to the car. I’m just itching to get there.”
August would be Breen’s 12th start at Rally Finland, the WRC round where he has the most experience.
“That experience is something that really helps,” he added. “I’ve seen a lot of the stages in lots of different directions and configurations over the years and that’s helped me to build up some good knowledge.
“Like Andrea [Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport director] and everybody in the team, Paul and me just want to get there and do the very best job we can.”
Neste Rally Finland is scheduled for August 6-9 and is currently intended to be the event where the WRC 2020 season will resume after the COVID-19 suspension, which stretches back to Rally México in March. Further updates on the COVID-19 situation are expected at the end of this month or in the first week of June.
There has been speculation that Finland could move back into September to occupy Rally New Zealand’s date if the Auckland event elects to postpone its WRC return by a year in the same way Safari Rally Kenya has.