Monday | 09 Aug 2021

Does Belgium offer Breen big breakthrough chance?

Could this week’s Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (13 - 15 August) be the event where Craig Breen finally claims his first WRC victory? He doesn’t see why not.

Breen won the event the last time it ran in 2019, but is well aware that beating an, admittedly, impressive field of Rally2 cars then doesn’t compare with the best of the best at round eight of the WRC.

“This week will be a completely different ball game to 2019,” said the Hyundai i20 World Rally Car driver. “This is where the big boys are at and they’re ready to go for it.

“Experience is always a good thing and having been here a few times, I have a good idea of what’s coming. It’s a nice feeling to come back after the win last time and it would be a dream to repeat that result.

Video: Memorable Belgian WRC moments

“Can I do it? Why not? I definitely think we can put up a good fight. It depends how quickly I can find the feeling on the test. I’ve got one day to discover everything and be on the pace but there’s no reason why we can’t.”

Born and raised in Ireland’s hotbed of asphalt rallying, Breen is delighted to see another Tarmac rally on the roster – especially one as good as the Belgian fixture, which makes its first WRC appearance.

“Ypres is a great event,” said Breen. “And it’s one I’m really looking forward to after a strong result in Estonia (second overall).

“Thierry [Neuville] also has experience in Ypres, even with the World Rally Car. I hope I can find my confidence and feeling with the car quickly.

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“The stages are very specific in Belgium and they’re really unlike any other Tarmac rally. They are flat, very fast and interrupted by right-angled junctions.

“Additionally, the cuts are very special. In Ireland, the stages are smoother and we have more altitude differences. But Ypres is Ypres, nothing compares."

Victory in Belgium would make Breen the WRC’s second consecutive first-time winner, following in the tyre tracks of Kalle Rovanperä’s success in Estonia.

• Full coverage from Renties Ypres Rally Belgium will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

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