Hyundai Motorsport has confirmed Craig Breen will drive its third i20 World Rally Car at Rally Sweden (13 - 16 February) instead of nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb.
Motorsport director Andrea Adamo confirmed the decision was a tactical one. The Irishman didn’t start last weekend’s season opening Rallye Monte-Carlo and will therefore start the Torsby-based event behind the factory drivers who competed in the French Alps.
He will join Monte winner Thierry Neuville and defending world champion Ott Tänak in the squad. Loeb, who was originally entered by Hyundai, will not now take part.
Adamo said: “We have taken the decision to add Craig Breen to our line-up for Rally Sweden alongside Thierry and Ott in a bid to field the most competitive package possible for the event with the best available options for road position.
“We opted to bring in Craig based on his performance in Sweden in 2018 when he finished in second place, and the potential he showed in our i20 Coupe WRC last season.”
Breen drove for Hyundai twice last season, starring in Finland where he challenged for the lead before dropping down the order to help the team. He was back in an i20 in Britain, where he was running fourth when he crashed and dropped to eighth at the finish.
The Irishman was also scheduled to drive a factory i20 in Australia before the event was cancelled due to bushfires.
Breen said: “I’m just so happy to be back in the car and given another chance to show what we can do in the WRC. After last year, Andrea asked me if I trusted him. Of course, I do and he’s really showed, once again, that he is an absolute man of his word.
“I can’t thank him and the team enough for the faith they’ve showed in Paul (co-driver Nagle) and myself.
“We saw in Monte Carlo what a special team this is and what it means to Andrea. To be part of that is just fantastic for me. This is where I want to be now and I’ll do whatever it takes to stay in this brilliant team.”