Rally Estonia runner-up Craig Breen says putting himself in the “shop window” for a 2021 World Rally Championship seat with Hyundai was “one of the intentions” of the weekend.
Breen was in superlative form all weekend, scoring two fastest stage times to bring home an invaluable 1-2 for Hyundai, keeping rally winner Ott Tänak honest throughout.
It was Breen’s fourth start in an i20 Coupe WRC following outings in Finland and Wales last year and Sweden back in February.
Breen is currently sharing his drive with Dani Sordo and nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb, but has made no secret of his desire to return to the WRC full-time.
When asked by DirtFish if his performance in Estonia was a good audition for a potential full-time drive in 2021, Breen said: “That was obviously one of the intentions.
“Starting the event I wanted to very much put myself in the shop window to be ready for next year.
“I think I’ve been given a few golden tickets over the years but I think this one was quite an exceptional one that I was given last year already, but I think it’s taken me a little bit of time just to get my confidence and now I feel I can absolutely deliver.”
Breen’s second place matched his previous best WRC result when he placed there for Citroën on Rally Sweden 2018.
“I have to say everything has just gone so well from start to finish,” he said.
“[It’s] perhaps surpassed my expectations slightly. [We] just got into a really good rhythm already from yesterday [Saturday] morning and were just really at one with the car, at one with everything and [had] one of those weekends where I really felt that I stepped everything up a little notch.
“To be fighting on the podium now with the two best drivers in the world [Tänak and Sébastien Ogier] it’s something I’m very, very proud about.”
Breen added he felt indebted to Hyundai for the faith the team has shown in him, so he “desperately wanted to repay them” with a strong result as soon as he could.
Hyundai handed a lifeline to Breen – who was dropped by Citroën at the end of 2018 in favor of Ogier and Esapekka Lappi – when it picked him to drive an i20 Coupe WRC in Finland last year with neither Sordo nor Loeb keen to do the rally.
“I would not be where I am without him [Andrea Adamo] that’s 100% sure and not just Andrea but everybody around,” Breen explained.
“They went out on a limb to pick me to be fair.
“Already in Finland last year it was a risk putting me again in the car, after the accident in GB last year putting me in the car in Sweden, continuing to put their faith into myself and Paul [Nagle, co-driver], that’s something I desperately wanted to repay them with and I really hope this result is just the start of scratching the surface of what we can do.”