Craig Breen is hoping his recent World Rally Championship form ties in with his Rally Finland experience to help go for his maiden WRC victory.
Breen and Paul Nagle have finished their last two world rallies, Ypres Rally Belgium and Rally Estonia, as runner-ups. Hyundai’s part-time driver now has five podium finishes in WRC without yet enjoying a world rally win.
2016’s Rally Finland was the first time Breen finished a WRC event with a podium position. Of course, Nagle stood on the top step five years ago alongside Kris Meeke.
“As a crew we tend to go well on events with this kind of profile,” explained Breen, “and I think this could be another strong event for us given our current form.
“I’m still searching for my first win – it feels like it has been eluding us now for some time, but we are getting closer and Finland will present one of the better opportunities this year, so we will do everything in our power to make it happen.”
While Breen and Nagle may have the ability to trump their rivals next weekend, Toyota’s Finnish supremacy is a likely thorn in their side. Meeke’s 2016 win was the last time a Yaris WRC didn’t dominate Rally Finland. Remember Toyota only rejoined the WRC a year later.
Hyundai’s Ott Tanak is a two-time reigning Rally Finland winner and local wonderboy Kalle Rovanpera will be Toyota’s favourite to grab his third win in four rallies.
But Breen can forget about the side stories. He can round off an impressive year with another star drive in Finland. Then, he can focus on what needs to be done to make 2022 as successful as possible.
Hyundai’s i20 WRC has developed a lot since it last appeared on Finland’s high-speed gravel rally. Wins on Rally Estonia and Arctic Rally Finland surprised some so Breen’s elusive victory is certainly not out of the question.
This year’s Autumnal visit to Jyvaskyla is definitely going to be an interesting one.
“The roads evolve every year,” said Breen. “As we’ve had a two-year break I think we will notice a lot of changes.
“In terms of set-up, you need a car that gives you confidence to carry the speed on the roads, and a stable rear will enable you to really chuck the car into those long, fast corners and jumps.
“It’s the rally where you have to be the most committed.”
Photos courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool