After two disappointing rounds in Belgium (Ypres) and Estonia for Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen his ERC season moves on to the Czech Republic this weekend and the Barum Rally Zlin (Aug 28TH – 30TH). A prominent feature in the FIA European Rally Championship since 2004, Czech Rally Zlìn celebrates its 45th birthday this year and will once again take place around the South Moravian University City 300 kilometres south of the Czech capital Prague.
Seeded number two the Peugeot 208T16 driver is no stranger to the fast asphalt stages that wind their way through a mix of villages, open farmland and forests as this will be the third visit of his career to the event. The surface can be broken in places and he will be very much hoping his previous experience of the rally will in some way keep him on the cleaner lines should the unpredictable weather choose to make driving conditions difficult as it often can. Having flown straight from their fifth place finish at WRC Deutschland Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin got straight down to business when they arrived so with a test session in the region and their recce behind them they are ready for the qualifying stage on Friday morning to determine the starting order for Leg 1. For the huge number of fans that are guaranteed to be there as always there is the treat of the opening SS1 City super special stage on Friday evening to whet their appetite for the real rally action the following day. The service park for the weekend is located in Otrokovice, 14 kilometres from Zlín and the rally will return there several times throughout its fifteen stages. In 2014 the Peugeot Rally Academy driver was in the fight for victory here when he went off the road when a small mistake on a left hand bend forced him to swerve right to avoid a pole but he consequentially entered a field and struck a tree with the right side of the car. Even though Craig made it to the end of the stage but the impact damage to his 208T16 was too great to continue and he was forced to retire. On reflection Craig said “It’s a tough event – very fast, but narrow and bumpy. In 2014, we were eliminated quite quickly following our off, so this time I need to make sure we score points after our last two disappointing outings.”