Craig Breen has been called up for Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (19 – 22 November) by Hyundai Motorsport.
The Irishman will partner Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville at the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship, which is likely to settle a fierce manufacturers’ title battle between the Korean squad and Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Breen’s nomination for the third i20 World Rally Car was widely expected after a superb second place at the championship’s Rally Estonia restart event last month.
He is the defending Ypres champion after winning the tricky asphalt encounter last season, when it was not a WRC round, in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Breen has never driven an i20 WRC in the championship on asphalt and will prepare for Belgium’s first-ever WRC fixture by contesting two local rallies, the Aarova Rally Oudenaarde (October 10 -11) and the South Belgian Rally (October 24 – 25).
He acknowledged that this year’s Ypres encounter will be a very different prospect from the 2019 rally.
“I really enjoyed last year’s event, when I won,” he said. “Paul and I won when it was held in the summertime in conditions that I imagine are very different to what we’ll see in November.
“I’m looking forward to my first Tarmac rally with the team and in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, in addition to the Aarova and South Belgian rallies that we will do in October in Belgium.
“It will give us valuable seat time and an opportunity to understand the conditions we are likely to face at Ypres. I hope we’ll be able to repeat the sort of performance and result that we had in Estonia, which will be important for the manufacturers’ championship.”
Ypres will mark Breen’s third WRC outing this year. He finished seventh in Sweden in February but team principal Andrea Adamo was impressed by the 30-year-old’s Estonia drive.
“Craig and Paul showed in Estonia what they can achieve when they have the correct tools to do the job. They both demonstrated their strength in Ypres last year, winning in a rival R5 car, so they bring invaluable experience and knowledge of this event to our team,” he said.
“The championship has closed up as a result of our 1-2 in Estonia, so we have to continue to field our strongest line-up in each of the few final rounds.
“I believe Craig and Paul are the best crew to join Thierry / Nicolas (Gilsoul) and Ott / Martin (Järveoja) in Ypres to help us finish the year as strongly as we can.”