Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen will put on his WRC-2 hat for the second time this season when he returns to where he made his debut on the World Rally Championship scene back in 2009 at the tender age of nineteen. The Vodafone Rally de Portugal takes place from Thursday May 21st until Sunday May 24th and is set to be one of the most competitive events yet due to its capacity entry. Since 2001 the rally has graced the Algarve holiday region but this year the rally will shift back to its roots up north of Porto which means it’s a new rally for everyone including Craig, so it is vital to ensure his pace notes of the stages are perfect when he does his pre event reconnaissance.
On Thursday afternoon Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin will take their SAINTéLOC Racing Junior Team Peugeot 208T16 over the start ramp in Guimarães before tackling stage one, a 3km super special stage at Lousada Rallycross circuit later on that evening. The first full day of rallying on Friday heads further north towards the Spanish border and the Porta Lima area where crews will take on six grueling gravel tests split by a mid-day service back at Matosinhos before returning there again for the overnight halt.
Saturday’s rally journeys east and is the longest day with 165km of stages in the Amarante area including two passes over the challenging 37km Fridão test. From the longest to the shortest, Sunday has only three stages but won’t be short on action and the big attraction will be the legendary Fafe stage famed for its huge jump which has drawn thousands of spectators over the years and will surely do it again twice before the cars return to the finish ramp around lunch time.
Craig goes to Portugal on top form after a very successful start to his season. Since finishing second on his last WRC outing in Monte Carlo the Peugeot ace currently leads the European Rally championship after back to back victories in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208T16 but he will face tough competition from old and new rivals in WRC-2 this time with a twenty four strong entry in the class. Feeling confident before departing for the event Craig said “I am really looking forward to Rally de Portugal this year as I know our package is proven on this terrain and although it’s a completely different rally this time than those I’ve competed on before it’s totally new to everyone else too.”