Wednesday | 27 Oct 2021

Breen gets to grips with Puma at Spain test

Craig Breen has talked of the challenge of learning to drive a hybrid-era car after his first full test aboard M-Sport Ford’s Puma Rally1.

The Irishman drove the new-for-2022 car on asphalt for the first time in Spain last week and followed that with a day on gravel. Prior to that, his only other outing came in Britain shortly before his switch from Hyundai Motorsport to M-Sport Ford was announced.

“It is a big challenge, a big challenge for all of the drivers and I guess it’s the understanding of trying to harvest the energy and trying to do the re-gen all the time,” said Breen, who is preparing for his first full-season programme in the WRC.

“Driving a rally car at 200kph in the woods, at least for me, takes all the capacity I have in my brain and now you’re having to drive at the same speed and still find places to do the re-gen and get yourself a bit of a boost.

“It’s not going to be easy and whoever switches onto that the quickest, whoever is the quickest to get into a normal rhythm of doing that without thinking about it, then that’s going to be key [to 2022 success].”

There had been speculation that Breen could make his competitive debut for the British team at the 2021 season finale at FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza (18 - 21 November).

He added: “It’s a no for Monza. I’m completely focused on what I’m doing with the 2022 car and, anyway, there’s no way I could go to Monza with M-Sport and potentially take points away from Hyundai – that would go completely against the grain. No. Not for me.

“I see it as an advantage that I’ve stopped with the current World Rally Car and all of my attention is now directed towards getting settled into the Puma.

“The other guys are going to be jumping in and out of the current car and then doing some testing in Rally1 – that’s not the same for me. I’m completely focused on next year’s car and that’s the most important thing for me, to get switched on for 2022.

“With this time, I can work on the whole regen process and understand completely how to use the hybrid to the best of its capability. It’s going to be a whole new sport from what I can imagine. It’s going to change the sport completely.”

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