Winning week for Breen concludes with WRC test
Craig Breen celebrated his victory in the Fiesta SportTrophy International Shootout in style today as he took the wheel of a Ford Focus RS WRC to receive tuition from BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Flying Finn Mikko Hirvonen.
WRC runner-up Hirvonen, fresh from a double win at the Bettega Memorial Rally in Bologna, Italy where he powered his Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to victory in front of a crowd of 30,000 fans, found himself in the co-driver's seat as he offered advice to Breen who drove the Focus around a specially constructed rally stage at Carlisle Airport.
The young Irishman, who won the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Hirvonen thanks to his win in this season's Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi), made the most of his chance, completing over 100 km of running in the car which was used by Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson at this year's Rally GB.
The day finished with Hirvonen taking the wheel of the car to give Breen a final spin around the course offering an insight into the level of driving that Breen is hoping to emulate.
Earlier in the day, four of Breen's fellow FSTi competitors, who had earned the chance to sample the Focus RS WRC after contesting more than four rounds of this year's championship, got behind the wheel of the car with British star Wilson offering guidance.
FSTi runner-up Patrick Anglade (21) from Germany, who won three rounds of this year's championship was one of the drivers taking advantage of the opportunity with Team Abu Dhabi drivers Bader Al Jabri (24), Majed Al Shamsi (29) and Ahmed Al Mansoori (23).
All four drivers took their first drive in a Focus RS WRC with Wilson beside them, before having their own co-driver join them for the rest of the session.
Fiesta SportTrophy International champion Craig Breen said:
"It has been a brilliant day. I have really enjoyed it and I have learned a lot about the car. It's the first time that I've driven a non-active car so it has been a new experience for me and I hope I've made the most of it. You don't get the chance to sit in the car with a WRC star very often and he gave me some great tips on position and being smooth. I hope I've got as much out of it as I possibly can. It was really interesting to be in the car with Mikko and to see how he does it. It gave me a great idea of what I need to be aiming for."
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Mikko Hirvonen said:
"I really enjoyed it. Craig is a very good driver and I really didn't need to do much in the car. I wasn't aware of how much he had achieved over the season in addition to the WRC events until today and I have been very impressed with his ability in the car and how quickly he adapted to the challenge. He will learn a lot from his year at M-Sport."
Patrick Anglade said:
"It was really amazing. There's a big difference between driving the WRC car and the other cars that I have driven in the past. The power is unbelievable and the grip is really good. It has been a very good experience for me. I don't think I will ever forget this day."
Majed Al Shamsi said:
"I had such a great time. It is really like being on a rollercoaster ride. It was an amazing experience."
Bader Al Jabri said:
"It was unbelievable to drive. I feel like driving the Fiesta is more physical, but driving the WRC car requires so much concentration it is amazing. I got a lot of good advice from Matthew. It was a great opportunity to be out there with someone with so much experience."
Ahmed Al Mansoori said:
"It was a really fantastic experience for me. I have been looking forward to driving the WRC car all week and it lived up to all that I had hoped. I loved every minute of it and it really gives you an incentive to progress because I would like to drive one of those cars again in the future."