Hyundai Motorsport bids a fond farewell to Craig Breen and Paul Nagle as the Irish duo will move to M-Sport for the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season.
Breen and Nagle joined Hyundai Motorsport in the summer of 2019 making their debut with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on the fast roads of Rally Estonia – which was run as a WRC candidate event and as part of their preparation for Rally Finland. The Finnish event marked their first WRC round with the team. After competing at Wales Rally GB, they were part of the team’s celebrations in Australia where Hyundai Motorsport secured its first manufacturers’ title.
The Irish duo’s 2020 season started at Rally Sweden where they finished seventh. When the WRC calendar resumed at Rally Estonia in July, after a six-month hiatus due to the ongoing global pandemic, they clinched their first podium with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. The result played an essential role in Hyundai Motorsport’s quest for the manufacturers’ championship. The Irish pair also scored their first win with the team at the Aarova Rally Oudenaarde, a national tarmac event in Belgium, in which they competed to prepare for Ypres Rally – before the event was cancelled due to COVID-19.
In addition to being part of the Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC operations, Breen and Nagle were big assets for the company’s Customer Racing department. In 2019, the Irish duo dominated the Ulster Rally with the Hyundai i20 R5, their first outing with the car, and were crowned Irish Tarmac Champions. Last year, they participated in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) with the Hyundai i20 R5 with the aim of helping the development of Indian tyre manufacturer MRF and they were also involved in the testing phase of the Hyundai i20 N Rally2. The pair brought the i20 R5 to victory at Rally di Alba, part of the Italian WRC Championship.
In 2021, they started several events with the Hyundai i20 R5 and clinched the win in the iconic Rallye Sanremo, the first round of the Italian Rally Championship. They brought home a fantastic second place at the Rally Liepāja in the FIA ERC and Breen was also second at the legendary Targa Florio with Belgian Louis Louka alongside him.
With Nagle in the co-driver’s seat, Breen has put in some impressive performances in WRC this season. The pair claimed back-to-back second place finishes in Rally Estonia and Ypres Rally Belgium, the latter supporting a Hyundai Motorsport 1-2, before adding a third consecutive podium result in Rally Finland.
Team Principal Andrea Adamo said: “I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Craig and Paul for their hard work and dedication since joining us in 2019. Across three seasons, they have proven to be valuable team players and have contributed to our recent manufacturers’ title successes. The results that they have secured – especially consecutive podium finishes in Rally Estonia, a fantastic second place in Ypres Rally, and most recently in Rally Finland – have shown they have the pace to be among WRC’s finest. They have also played a key role in the further development of our Customer Racing department, competing in the FIA European Rally Championship with the Hyundai i20 R5 and also taking part in the testing phase of the Hyundai i20 N Rally2. They are two fully focused individuals and form a potent, professional partnership; they have always been there for us when we needed them, and we wish them all the best for the future.”
Craig Breen said: “I have been working towards achieving a full-time seat in the World Rally Championship since I was a little boy, so this was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down. It is with great sadness that we can’t continue with Hyundai Motorsport but what an amazing story it has been; coming from nowhere, competing back at home in our regional Irish championship and flung back into the WRC. Hyundai gave us our lifeline, a platform on which we could perform and show what we could do. We’ve had a few rollercoaster moments along the way, as well as many highlights, including our consecutive podiums in Estonia, Ypres and Finland. We have also been part of the Customer Racing program, and enjoyed many victories, not least at Sanremo and the rallies we won in the Irish tarmac championship. We part ways on the best of terms, having had an amazing experience and making lots of friends along the way. We now look forward to the future with gratitude and excitement.”
Craig Breen / Paul Nagle Highlights with Hyundai Motorsport
- First event with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC at Rally Estonia (WRC candidate event)
- First WRC event with Hyundai Motorsport at Rally Finland
- Debut with the Hyundai i20 R5 and victory at the Ulster Rally in Ireland. With this win they were crowned Irish Tarmac Champions
- Part of the team’s WRC manufacturers’ title celebrations in Australia
- WRC events with Hyundai Motorsport: Rally Finland (7th) and Wales Rally GB (8th)
- Second place at Rally Estonia (2nd) and two stage wins (SS9 & SS10)
- Part of the team’s WRC manufacturers’ title celebrations in Monza
- Participation in the FIA European Rally Championship with the Hyundai i20 R5
- Win at Rally di Alba, round of the Italian WRC Championship
- Role in the development phase of the Hyundai i20 N Rally2
- WRC events with Hyundai Motorsport: Rally Sweden (7th) and Rally Estonia (2nd)
- Shared third Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC with Dani Sordo
- Second place at Rally Estonia (2nd) and two stage wins (SS3 & SS8)
- Second place at Ypres Rally Belgium and four stage wins (SS2, SS3, SS9 & SS10)
- Third place at Rally Finland and two stage wins (SS2 & SS5)
- Selected events with the Hyundai i20 R5. Win at Rallye Sanremo and podiums at Targa Florio (2nd) and Rally Liepāja ERC (2nd)
- WRC events with Hyundai Motorsport: Arctic Rally Finland (4th), Croatia Rally (8th), Rally Estonia (2nd), Ypres Rally Belgium (2nd) and Rally Finland (3rd).
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