Craig Breen WRC Rally Finland PREVIEW
Next weekend’s WRC Rally Finland will be the seventh time that Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team driver Craig Breen will take on the challenge of this iconic event affectionately known as the Finnish Grand Prix. For Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin it will be their third outing of the year aboard a Citroen DS3 WRC as they continue to prove that they are a competitive package worthy of a top place within the World Rally Championship. Since their impressive debut in the car on WRC Rally Sweden in February, and throughout WRC Rally Poland earlier this month the pair showed real pace as well as reliability on every stage in all conditions.
Craig joins Kris Meeke and Khalid Al Qassimi as the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team will host a full three car team line up on this occasion. University town Jyväskylä and the Paviljonki service park in the centre will be sure to draw large crowds when the rally gets underway on Thursday morning for the pre rally shakedown. Flat out from start to finish the real clocks start on the 2.27km Harju street stage that evening to get all the drivers adrenaline pumping before they take to the twenty three more forest stages that make up the event. On Friday the cars head west where classics like Mökkiperä and Jukojärvi will be the main attraction before returning to Jyväskylä. Saturday will take the crews south bound and the legendary Ouninpohja where driver, co-driver and car will be tested to their limits on a rollercoaster road that many drivers regard as the best stage in the world. Sunday’s route will be far from a leisurely stroll to the finish as it will see areas unused as rally stages for twenty years or more, adding an extra sting in the tail for many of today’s WRC stars.
Although forty three percent of the 2016 route will be new Craig will be very much hoping to draw on his six prior appearances on the rally. The pre-event reconnaissance and test setup will be almost as important as the rally itself. Pace notes must be perfect because with blind crests and hidden corners positioning the car correctly before take-off is the key to maximum speed through the bends. A feature that he is all too familiar with having cracked vertebrae in his back whilst landing after a jump which brought his 2014 event to a premature end. Before departing for Finland Craig said “I’m really looking forward to the rally this year, being so soon after Poland everything should come together a little quicker for us. A little bit more confident, a little sharper, a little more committed but it won’t be easy. The plan is as before to improve with every kilometre in this car.”