Hyundai Motorsport has confirmed Craig Breen and Paul Nagle will compete in the next round of the World Rally Championship, Rally Croatia. It will be the Irish pair’s first asphalt WRC round since joining Hyundai in 2019.
Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville will drive Hyundai’s two remaining i20 WRCs as Dani Sordo misses out on his second world rally in a row.
Despite finishing fourth on Arctic Rally Finland, Breen was frustrated with his performance as he struggled to get the best out of his World Rally Car in the frozen conditions. A refreshed driving style on Arctic’s Power Stage secured the second-fastest stage time which was another glimpse of the Irishman’s potential.
Croatia’s asphalt roads will provide a completely different test and the 2019 Irish Tarmac Rally Champions will relish a return to sealed surface stages. Breen’s last all-asphalt WRC round was in August 2018 when he finished seventh in a Citroen C3 WRC.
The pair’s success on asphalt rallies throughout Europe since then should give them enough confidence to push for another strong world championship result. Rally Croatia will also be their first back-to-back WRC appearance with Hyundai which should help level the playing field with their full-time rivals.
Next month’s event will be Breen and Nagle’s third WRC start since the series returned from its coronavirus break last summer and interestingly all three events; Estonia, the Arctic Rally, and Croatia; have been new additions to the WRC.
20 stages now make up Rally Croatia’s itinerary after organisers cancelled both runs of its Zagreb-based superspecial. The 1.9 kilometre test was set to open the rally on Friday before running again on Saturday.
The three-day event remains the only WRC event since 2020’s Rally Monte-Carlo to exceed 300 stage-kilometres.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s William Creighton starts his 2021 season in the Czech Republic this weekend. Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan will start the Valašská Rally in a Ford Fiesta Rally4.
The Motorsport Ireland Academy driver has yet to reveal his full plans for this year.
Photos courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool