Craig Breen, WRC Rally Sweden Preview
For the second round of the season, the FIA World Rally Championship competitors will be tackling the only full winter event on the calendar. This time out Craig Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin take on the frozen, snow-covered roads of Rally Sweden and the pair will be doing so for the first time in the all-new 2017 Citroën C3 WRC!
The 2017 running of the event includes a number of new features, with the service park now moved to Torsby airport. This configuration means that more than half of the itinerary has been revamped and the competitors will tackle several brand new speed tests. Following Thursdayevening’s traditional super special stage at the Karlstad racecourse, the crews will head across the border into Norway on Friday’s leg. Röjden will be the only stage this season to be contested in two different countries! On Saturday, the highlight will obviously be Vargåsen and the infamous long jump contest held at Colin’s Crest. The rally concludes around lunchtime on Sunday, after the Torsby Power Stage.
Packed with incidents and drama, the Rallye Monte-Carlo certainly confirmed how evenly-matched the field is in 2017 and the highly spectacular nature of the new generation of World Rally Cars. For Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, the opening round of the season did not however meet the team’s high expectations. Two short weeks have provided time to analyse the reasons for the disappointing results in the south of France and to fine tune preparations for Sweden.
Having conducted an initial test session in early January, the team will continue – as planned – development of the Citroën C3 WRC this weekend, on road surfaces that resemble those used during the rally as closely as possible. Once again two cars nominated to score points in the Manufacturers’ World Championship will be competing at this round. Alongside Craig and Scott will be Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle. Meanwhile, Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau will be competing in a car from the previous generation.
Event statistics: 18 timed stages covering a total of 331.74 km. 57.8 % of the stages are new compared with 2016. 45 metres is the record jump on Colin’s Crest, set by Eyvind Brynildsen in 2016. 384 studs per Michelin X-Ice North 3 tyre. They take 45 minutes to install on each tyre. 113.44 kph was the average speed of the winner of the 2016 Rally Sweden. Which was lower than the 114.84 kph recorded by Sébastien Loeb’s Citroën Xsara WRC in 2004!
CRAIG BREEN “I’m very excited about making my competitive debut with the Citroën C3 WRC! I can’t wait to get started. This is something that I’ve been waiting for all my life. I have good memories from this rally, not least the 2016 event, which was my first WRC outing with Citroën. I’d also say that this surface is little bit more forgiving of minor mistakes, or at least that is the case when there are really compact snow banks! I feel confident in these surroundings, in the car and with the team. And although we don’t really know what to expect, I’m ready to rise to the challenge.”