Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club member Craig Breen scooped a whopping €500,000 scholarship to invest in his rally racing career in Wales last Saturday when he won the FIA World Rally Championship Academy title.
The 21 year-old rally driver from Waterford won the title amidst jubilant scenes at the end of Wales Rally Great Britain.
Competition for the world title went all the way to a cliff hanging final stage but Breen withstood the pressure to bring off the biggest win in recent Irish Rallying history.
There were nail-biting scenes at the end of the final stage as Craig crossed the finish line but then was required to wait until his nearest championship rival; Estonian Egon Kaur came through in a slower time.
It became clear as Kaur neared the end of the test that he was down on time, Craig, his co-driver Gareth Roberts (Wales) and the Breen supporters erupted with emotion as the pressure was finally released and the Irish driver could celebrate his achievement.
The final event of the WRC Academy season set up a final round showdown as Egon Kaur (Estonia) on 92 points and Craig Breen (Ireland) on 72 Points were the only two competitors that could take the title.
The odds had been stacked against Breen going into the race, as he was required to win the rally and if Kaur finished second, he would be required to win fourteen of the seventeen stages that made up the event.
Craig Breen said he was “absolutely thrilled” to win the FIA world title.
“I can’t find words to describe this moment. For sure it’s the most amazing feeling to finally get here after all the effort we’ve put in all year, all the ups and downs we’ve made it to the finish, “ he said .
“We’ve finished level on points but we’ve got it on stage wins so we’re absolutely thrilled.”
Top of his plans for the 2012 season is to race in the Rallye Monte-Carlo in the S2000.
He said the €500,000 prize for winning FIA World Rally Championship Academy title will cover most of his budget for next year.
“And I can put my own budget to the following year so it’s guaranteed me two more years in the sport I love so what better prize could there be,” he added.