What can Breen achieve in Sweden?

Upon his Hyundai return, Craig Breen is being touted as a potential podium finisher this weekend


History tells us that predicting a winner on this weekend’s Rally Sweden will be an incredibly difficult task.

Four drivers have tasted success in the past four editions: Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans, Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville. All four should be in the mix this year too, but Sweden could also be a golden opportunity for one World Rally Championship interloper to get in on the action.

Having left M-Sport following a miserable 2022 season, Craig Breen finds himself back at Hyundai for a partial campaign in the team’s third car.

Breen officially begins his second stint at the team on Thursday evening in the Umeå-based event and could potentially reap the benefits of a favorable road position on Friday, according to former WRC sporting director George Donaldson.

Speaking on the latest episode of SPIN, The Rally Pod, Donaldson said that Breen’s experience with the previous iteration of the i20 could launch the Irishman into contention.


“Craig could go very well,” Donaldson said. “He’s got no problem driving this car in the past, so basically if the stories are correct and it’s a car that is biased towards Thierry’s input, then categorically Craig has no problem driving this car.

“And sometimes, again with very little testing, he’s got remarkable results [in the past], so he’s the big threat. I would put some money on a top three for Craig.”

Breen has finished second in Sweden once before in 2018 but lacks experience of the Umeå stages, having run off into a snowbank last year on the first edition since the rally moved from its traditional Karlstad/Torsby base.

“The enormous disadvantage he has is that he basically crashed on the first stage last year, he will be discovering these stages, a lot of them for the first time,” Colin Clark added.

“My concern is that he doesn’t have the sort of experience in this car on these stages as the other guys. Is the car driveable in the way Breen wants to drive it? Because if it is, then the lack of experience on the stages becomes less important.

“If design philosophies have carried through into the new car, into the Rally1 car which is a little bit of a handful, then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to pick it up and go with it.”

You can listen to the full Rally Sweden preview podcast below.