Craig Breen will return to the FIA European Rally Championship this year, driving a BRC Racing Team-run Hyundai i20 R5 – running on, and supported by, MRF Tyres.

The WRC podium finisher and reigning Irish Tarmac Champion finished runner-up in the ERC in 2015, so he knows the events well and will be a title contender this time too.

Craig will be co-driven in the ERC by Paul Nagle and the 2020 series starts at the Azores Rally (26-28 March).

To get acquainted to his MRF rubber, Craig will contest this weekend’s Itäralli as a pre-ERC dress rehearsal. With Nagle unavailable at such short notice, he’ll be partnered in Finland by John Rowan.

With hopefully more WRC outings on the horizon with the works Hyundai Motorsport team (Craig finished seventh on the recent Rally Sweden in an i20 Coupe WRC), it will be another very busy season for the Irishman.

This is what Craig had to say regarding his return to the ERC.

How pleased are you to be joining Team MRF Tyres for the ERC in 2020?
“I am excited. Everything was a bit up in the air last year, I was kind of going from rally to rally and not really sure what was happening next. It’s nice to have something concrete in place to get my teeth into. It’s good for my career and to keep the relationship with Hyundai. The ERC is a good championship and I have great memories from back in the day. There are nice rallies, some I have had success on in the past and ones I’ve wanted to go back to and try to win again. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.”

The ERC prides itself on providing a platform of progression to the world championship, which must remain your goal?
“Absolutely. Where I want to be is in a World Rally Car in the World Rally Championship. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough seats for the talent that’s there. Luckily, I’ve been handed this lifeline to continue driving. I’m still involved with Hyundai and still involved with the World Rally Championship team. Even though I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing in the World Rally Car for the rest of the year, I am sure there will be some opportunities. I have to remain positive about that.”

Your ERC campaign begins in the Azores and you’re going back as a former winner…
“I won it the last time I was there so I have great memories. It’s a nice rally, nice people, very enthusiastic and obviously a very well supported rally. It’s a good place to start the championship. Sometimes the weather can be a bit [changeable] but that’s part and parcel of the rally.”

What would winning the ERC title mean to you?
“We definitely missed out on it with Peugeot [in 2015]. I do think it was for reasons beyond my control that we lost the championship in those years. I was always sorry that I didn’t manage to get the title because I did really believe we deserved it. I would like to tick that one off the bucket list because it’s the only one missing from the grassroots up to the world championship. That would definitely complete all the grassroots stuff and there’s only one left after that, the world title.”

Craig Breen and Paul Nagle wear Stilo WRC DES Zero helmets.

Craig Breen, FIA European Rally Championship, ERC, Hyundai i20