Paul Nagle talks retirement at his final pre-event WRC press conference

For the last time in his career, Paul Nagle attended a World Rally Championship pre-event press conference.

Becs Wiliams put the questions to the Killarney man and then asked Craig Breen to say a few words on his departing partner. She even mentions Kerry!

Q:

Paul, RallyRACC marked your first foray into the WRC in 2004 and now it hails the close of an illustrious career reading the notes. Firstly, why did you choose to put away the pencil now and how does it feel embarking on the final event?

PN:

Hmm, I suppose you have to retire at some stage in your rallying career and 2022 was the year for me. I have been at it now 18 years at the top level of the sport more or less and the workload involved in 14 rounds next year and a long time away from the family. The commitment and work load is phenomenal. I had a great run. I suppose like all careers, with some ups and downs. I needed to work this out on my own terms. It has been my own decision and I have always had doubts about it. I will miss the sport and the company and miss my friends in the World Championship.

Q:

If you could pick out one memory, something that really stands out, what would it be?

PN:

There have been loads. The first championship win in Alsace but the podium this year in Monte-Carlo with myself and Craig.. But the one event that stands out is the win with Kris (Meeke) in Finland. We needed to beat Jari-Matti (Latvala) and the Volkswagens that weekend. It was a special weekend compared to the rest.

Q:

Five victories, 102 events including this one and 25 WRC events with Craig Breen – did you ever imagine that your career in co-driving would be as successful as it has been?

PN:

It’s been easy enough between 2009 being with Kris or Craig and then with Andreas, I spend a lot of time with these two boys. When everything came tumbling down, Craig picked me off the ground to go back to rallying in Ireland and to get back to the podium with Hyundai was fantastic. I’ve had a couple of jump starts in my career and I’ve come up the right side.

Q:

What advice would you give your younger counterparts?

PN:

There are plenty of opportunities out there if they are prepared to work and put in the graft when wearing the fancy race suits and fancy helmets. When you are racing at this level, the opportunities do come up and you start the hard work. Co-drivers have a better chance of getting work than drivers. English-speaking co-drivers are few and far between.

Q:

I know we have been talking about retirement but will you pop back next year? Will there be anything to tempt you back or is that it?

PN:

That’s a loaded question. Never say never…but, currently, I would say it’s the end. You never know. Seb’s (Ogier) semi-retired. If something came up, it would have to be something extraordinary.

Q:

Craig, last event with the man from Kerry alongside you. How are you feeling about the

changing of the guard?

CB:

If we keep talking about him, his head will swell up and he won’t be able to put the helmet on tomorrow. No, obviously, it’s very strange and still doesn’t feel quite real. It won’t feel real until Japan and I suddenly have a different voice in my ears. It’s been fantastic apart from everything on the sporting side and all the results and all the rallies and what not. Just the craic… Irish humour is a very special and unique kind of humour and, when you find your partner in crime who operated on the same level, then you know it just ends up as a barrel of laughs. All the events, all the travelling and the time you spend together, it’s been the most amazing time together. Just want to work well together this weekend and enjoy the rally. It’s been a fairlyawful last six or eight months and we just want to do the best job we can this weekend. It would be great to finish the partnership on a high note. It will definitely not be the last time we are in a car together. I have so many extra-curricular rallies that I squeeze in here, there and everywhere. He doesn’t have a choice in the matter. I’m looking forward to them.

Q:

James Fulton takes over in Japan, why did you select him as your new co-driver?

CB:

It’s always a difficult decision, especially to try and replace someone like Paul. James is someone I have known from a good few years’ back when I was doing the Irish Tarmac Championship. If I am being completely honest, his vision was not that strong to get an opportunity in the World Rally Championship. But we saw what he was doing with young Josh in WRC2. Then he came and helped us out on a couple of the events. In the middle of the year, he came to Safari and one or two others. I put him in the car for one or two tests and I have to say I was really impressed with him. It’s not easy. Looking to the rally that is ahead of us in Japan, that will definitely be a baptism of fire. But he’s putting the work in and has dedication and is committed/ and Paul has been keeping him on his toes. It will be strange for the first time in Japan. But that’s the future.”


 

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