Nagle and Breen get surprise Rally Sweeden call-up
Craig Breen and Paul Nagle have been given a surprise call-up to the Hyundai Motorsports World Rally Team for next month’s Rally Sweden.
They showed solid speed in their two WRC outings with the Korean manufacturer in 2019, but were not named as part of Hyundai’s plans for the 2020 season.
Their place on the team comes at the expense of nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb and his co-driver Daniel Elena.
The French crew were originally set to be part of Hyundai’s squad for the only all snow rally of the season, but they did not have a very successful Rally Monte Carlo last weekend.
Loeb and Elena finished sixth on the opening round of the WRC, a rally they have won seven times, an uncharacteristic off-road excursion on the final day dropped them from fourth place.
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo is well-known for his ruthless streak. His job is to deliver the World manufacturers title for his employers and nostalgia towards a nine-time world champion would not even enter his mind. He wasted little time between Sunday night’s Monte Carlo Rally finish and Monday morning’s announcement of his revamped team.
“We have taken the decision to add Craig Breen to our line-up for Rally Sweden alongside Thierry Neuville [Monte Carlo winner] and Ott Tanak [current world champion] in a bid to field the most competitive package possible for the event with the best available options for road position.” said Adamo’ “We opted to bring in Craig based on his performance in Sweden in 2018 when he finished in second place, and the potential he showed in our i20 Coupe WRC last season.”
Nagle was busy preparing for this weekend’s Legend Bastogne Rally in Belgium (see separate story)when he got the call on Monday morning.
“Everything happened at 100 miles per hour,” he said.
Rally Sweden is scheduled for February 13 to 16. The last time Breen and Nagle were due to drive for Hyundai, on November’s Rally Australia, the event got cancelled due to bush fires in the Coffs Harbour region.
Ironically, they could face a similar issue next month as there is a distinct lack of snow in Varmlands where they rally stages are based as the rally crisscrosses the Norwegian border.
A regional rally in Norway, an event that uses the same roads as the Friday leg of Rally Sweden will not take place this Saturday due to the lack of snow on the ground.
This article originally appeared in the January 29 issue of The Kerryman. Kerry Motorpsort News is the motorsport content provider for The Kerryman.