With a lead of 3m19.6s over Sweden’s P-G Andersson starting Sunday’s final six stages, the Irishman drove without error to the finish in Salou in his Tom Gahan Motorsport Ford Fiesta to make it two FIA titles in as many seasons.
In 2011 Breen and Gareth Roberts won the inaugural FIA WRC Academy Cup and they used the scholarship prize on offer to step up to the SWRC.
“This is incredible, it’s beyond my wildest dreams,” said the 22-year-old, who resumed his driving career in the summer following the death of his co-driver Roberts on an accident on the Targa Florio Rally in Sicily back in June. “I really couldn’t have done this without everybody’s support and good wishes so I’d like to take this moment to thank each and everyone of you. It’s the perfect attribute to Gareth too and I am so happy to have won this title for him.”
PROTON driver Andersson dropped out of title-winning contention when he suffered a significant time loss from a broken driveshaft and an off on Friday. The Swede battled back but was unable to make up the lost time and challenge Breen for the win.
“Of course I would like to have won but Craig deserves this title,” said Andersson at the finish. “We had a high speed spin on stage 17 and we couldn’t catch Craig unless something happened to him so it was just about getting to the end of the rally.”
With Breen’s replacement co-driver Paul Nagle only contesting the final four events of the year, Andersson’s co-driver Emil Axelsson bagged the co-drivers’ accolade, six years after he partnered Patrik Sandell to the Junior world title.
Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi had an outside chance of winning the SWRC crown in Spain but a turbo failure on day one put him out. He restarted on day two to finish in third. “This has been a big season for me, I have learned a lot thanks to my team and co-driver [Michael Orr]. I hope to be back next year,” said Al-Rajhi at the finish.
After a strong debut performance at the wheel of a second PROTON, Alastair Fisher finished fourth with New Zealander Hayden Paddon battling back to fifth as both drivers relied on Rally 2 rules to get to the end.