Legends Boucles Bastogne preview

Nicolas Ciamin replaces Craig Breen
at the wheel of the BMW M3 Gr.A ‘Tribute to Luigi’!With the news at the beginning of the week that the Irishman Craig Breen had been appointed as Sebastien Loeb’s replacement in the Hyundai Motorsport team for the Rally of Sweden, the organisers of the Legend Boucles @ Bastogne 2020 were obliged to review some of their plans.

It was soon apparent that Hyundai did not wish to see Breen compete in another event before the second round of the World Rally Championship…“Somewhere it must be written that this 2020 edition of the Legend Boucles would not be plain sailing, Pierre Delettre, the organiser stated. We were obviously proud of our Meeke-Breen-Hirvonen trio, but by banking on stars on the world scene, we know that anything can happen at any given moment. We wish Craig Breen the very best for Sweden … and we are even prepared to send them some snow!”With the exit of Breen it was a question of finding a team able to tame the splendid M3 Gr.A straight out of the workshops of Mats van den Brand.

“Together with Nicolas Gilsoul we moved heaven and earth these last 36 hours, Pierre Delettre continued. Numerous drivers were contacted, but between the exclusive contracts of some and the test sessions or other meetings with partners of others, nothing was simple. We finally decided to put our faith in a young Frenchman presently on the up, Nicolas Ciamin, all the more so as he is presently competing in WRC3 for a Belgian team, DG Sport Compétition. In the company of his co-driver Yannick Roche, Ciamin was thrilled with the proposal, and Thursday afternoon he will be in Bastogne. In a way this is a story reminiscent of that of Bryan Bouffier two years ago … and we know how that ended!”

Recently second in the WRC3 classification of the Rallye de Monte-Carlo, Nicolas Ciamin is presently at the … Circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya, where he is carrying out test runs at the wheel of a Ligier JS P3! “As soon as the tests are over, I will rush back to my home in Nice to collect various bits and pieces and my equipment, and then travel on up to Belgium, Nicolas explained. It goes without saying that this proposal was pretty unexpected, and I’m flattered that the organisers should have thought of us to drive this legendary machine! I’ll arrive in Bastogne with as sole objective that of taking full pleasure in driving this M3 Gr.A, because my experience in historic vehicles is limited to having handled a … Fiat Uno Turbo Gr.A! But for a while my father did own an M3 Gr.A, and I’m fully aware of the potential of such a machine. Especially when it has been breathed on by a tuner such as Mats van den Brand. In a nutshell, both Yannick and I are delighted …”

Cherry on the cake, the BMW M3 Gr.A of Nicolas Ciamin and Yannick Roche will pay homage to the renowned tuner Luigi, who recently passed away.  The livery is largely inspired from that of the BMW 3.0 CSI Luigi Racing which Hugues de Fierlant and Jean Xhenceval had driven to victory at the 24 Hours of Francorchamps in 1975, event held on the old circuit.

The Legend Boucles @ Bastogne 2020 general public will therefore have the opportunity to fully enjoy this gorgeous and purebred car, and to become acquainted with a certain Nicolas Ciamin who clocked up no less than four scratch times in WRC3 on Monte-Carlo’s treacherous special stages.

Experienced drivers will need to keep a close eye on matters. Let the party begin!


Paul Nagle was due to return to international rally action later today.

The Killarney man was due to up alongside Craig Breen for the Legends Boucles Bastogne, Belgium’s biggest historic rally.

The Irish team will drive a BMW M3 from the Mats Van den Brand Motorsport stable in The Netherlands in the two-day rally that takes place close to the Luxemburg border. Bastogne is famous as the location of the Battle of the Bulge during World War 2.

Over 300 cars are expected to take part and rivals include former World Rally Championship stars Kris Meeke and Mikko Hirvonen who will both drive Ford Escorts.

Breen and Nagle’s Belgian outing will mark their first competitive event since November’s Killarney Historic Rally and their first overseas event since Rally GB last October.

With the Galway International also set for this Sunday it seems the pair will not be in a position to defend their Irish Tarmac Championship title.

“Sorry to say no Galway Rally this year for us, but delighted to tell you we will start Boucles de Spa in Bastogne with a beautiful M3 from Mats van den Brand,” Breen posted on social media recently. “Paul and I are looking forward to this unique event and continuing our ‘historic’ journey. Don’t worry though, we’ll be back to modern machinery before too long – but I am going to enjoy the soundtrack from this era in the meantime.”

Ahern’s Garage in Castleisland, Kerry’s main BMW dealer, is one of the crew’s sponsors for their Belgian event.

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