The Mitchlestown forest in County Cork will create a spectacular backdrop for this weekend’s (7/8 February 2009) Sean Conlon Rally, which hosts the opening rounds of the National Forestry and Junior Championships.
One of the drivers tipped to be competing for honours is Kilmurry-based Craig Breen, who recently finished 2nd in class and 10th overall in the Galway International Rally - establishing himself as an early challenger for the Fiesta ST Championship title.
On Sunday however, he will swap his usual Fiesta for a Citroen C2 in order to contest the Junior class. Craig explains why, “The Fiesta is a 2-litre car and the maximum engine size you can use in the Junior Championship is 1600cc. The car’s not mine; I rent it from DJ Motorsport. It’s very different to drive to the Fiesta. The Citroen has a sequential gearbox, whereas the Fiesta has the more usual H-gate gearbox and the way the two cars handle is very different.”
Not only will Craig have to get used to driving a different car, he’ll also have to contend with a different surface. However, he’s clearly up for the challenge.
“I'm looking forward to it. I haven't been on the loose since late last year but nonetheless, I’m feeling confident. To be honest, I prefer the forest to tarmac.”
Craig acknowledges that he faces a stern test from his fellow competitors. Not least from his own father, Ray.
“There is a strong entry in my class and Dad is doing the rally also - so it will be interesting to see how we compare.”
Guiding Craig through the twists and turns of the forest will be Rosscarbery’s Sorcha Kelly.
“Sorcha’s co-driven me before and we make a good pairing. She’s got vast experience, which I’ll be drawing on, every inch of the way”.
The action starts from 8:30am on Sunday morning, when the first car leaves the start ramp based in the Square, Mitchlestown and concludes with a champagne reception at 3.30pm.