Following the retirement of Paul Nagle, James Fulton will become Craig Breen’s co-driver from Rally Japan with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in a Puma Hybrid Rally1.
It marks the end of a glistening career for Nagle who leaves the sport with five overall WRC victories and 18 WRC podiums to his name.
With Nagle’s retirement plans expected, Breen, Nagle and M-Sport have been evaluating suitable replacement candidates, with James Fulton coming out on top. Fulton has been on hand with Breen and Nagle at numerous WRC events this year, while competing on WRC events in the WRC2 Championship. It means Fulton is already familiar with the intricacies of world championship events as well as how Breen operates. This experience has been further backed up by Fulton attending pre-event tests with Breen, to start acclimatising to the top-level pace of the Puma Hybrid Rally1.
Fulton is set to make his Rally1 debut on Rally Japan, to help with preparations ahead of the 2023 season to help ease the pressure of taking on Rallye Monte-Carlo for his first time at the sport’s top level. Nagle will travel out to Rally Japan, to be on hand and support Fulton and ensure a seamless transition as he hands over the pace notes.
James Fulton, Co-driver to Craig Breen, said: “I don’t have a huge amount to say other than that I am delighted to get the opportunity, it’s something that I have been aiming towards for a while now, naturally, like any co-driver to get to the top-level.
“I have been working with Craig for quite a while now and I have done a couple of tests in the Puma so I am really looking forward to developing the relationship with him and the car as well as with the team. I am looking forward to getting stuck into it and doing the best possible job.”
Craig Breen, Driver for M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, said: “Paul and I had been talking about this for a while, and I can completely understand his thinking. He’s been competing at the highest level for a long while and he wants more time with his family. But it’s still going to be strange without him.
“I have every confidence in James. He has good experience; he’s been on the most recent tests with us and he’s going to be in the car for Japan – that gives him good experience ahead of next season. Paul will also be joining us in Japan, just to settle everything in and give James plenty of reassurance.
“He’s done the best part of two years in the World Rally Championship, but it’s still going to be a step for him – but I’m sure he’s got it covered. He’s watched so many of the onboards and has seen so many stages that way, it already feels like he’s been sitting alongside me for a while.”