Mon 31 Jan 2022

Breen happy for Rovanperä to open Sweden’s roads

Craig Breen believes his Rallye Monte-Carlo result has put him in a strong position for next month’s Rally Sweden (24 - 27 February).

The Irishman finished third on his debut for M-Sport Ford at the season-opener.

But he sits fourth in the FIA World Rally Championship standings after Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kalle Rovanperä finished behind Breen in the classification, but bagged a maximum five bonus points for winning the closing Wolf Power Stage.

With neither Monte-Carlo winner Sébastien Loeb nor runner-up Sébastien Ogier competing in Umeå, the 21-year-old Finn will lead away the field into the WRC’s winter event – and that’s just the way Breen wanted it.

“A result like the one we took from Monte was just what I was looking for,” said the Ford Puma pilot.

“Everything worked. We know that when we go to the snow, every car you can have ahead of you is going to be an advantage. With neither Séb going, having Kalle up there [first on the road] is going to make the road a little bit better.”

Breen knows the advantage the running order can provide. After missing last year’s Monte, he was second for much of day one of last year’s Arctic Rally Finland before bringing a Hyundai i20 to fourth at the finish in Lapland.

“I’ve been in the position where I’ve benefited from missing the odd round and enjoying a better [start] place on the road,” added Breen, “but this year’s different. This year I need every point I can in the chase for the championship.

“Monte really was fantastic. From the very start I knew the potential for this car and once the rally got started, I felt I grew into it with every stage. Every kilometre I was feeling more confident and more comfortable.

“Now I just can’t wait to get the thing on the snow – we did a [snow] test close to Rovaniemi at the end of last year and the feeling was really good – and discover this new Rally Sweden up north.”

Video: Rallye Monte-Carlo review
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