The result, Breen’s first in the series since he and former co-driver Gareth Roberts triumphed on Rallye Monte-Carlo in January, puts the Irishman into joint second place in the title chase, eight points behind leader P-G Andersson.
Andersson, from Sweden, languished in sixth place at the finish in Cardiff after he damaged his PROTON’s powersteering running over a log on stage 17 following his restart under Rally 2 rules on Saturday.
Breen’s victory prompted an outpouring of emotion at the finish of the final stage as he remembered Welshman Roberts, who lost his life competing on a rally in Sicily three months ago having partnered Breen to the inaugural FIA WRC Academy title in Wales last season.
“We did the job here last year and we’ve done it again this year,” said Breen. “Everything was perfect and I couldn’t ask for more. But I miss Gareth so much and I wish he could have been here.”
Tom Cave completed an impressive SWRC debut for PROTON by finishing second with Yazeed Al-Rajhi third after the Saudi ace was handed a five-minute time penalty for two speeding offences on Saturday.
“Getting to the podium is what we wanted and what we achieved,” said Welshman Cave, who along with co-driver Craig Parry earned the Croeso Trophy in memory of Gareth Roberts as the highest-placed all-Welsh crew on the event.
Maciej Oleksowicz finished fourth with British wildcard and fellow Fiesta driver Alastair Fisher taking fifth following a close battle with Andersson on the final day.
New Zealander Hayden Paddon, who restarted under Rally 2 rules on Saturday having led after the opening stage on Friday, underlined his pace and potential by going fastest on four of Sunday’s six stages in his Skoda Fabia. “It’s a case of what might have been,” he said at the finish.