Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul speaks to Craig Breen's passing

Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul delivered a statement on Wednesday to explain what happened in the crash that killed Hyundai driver Craig Breen last week. 
 Breen lost his life when testing for Croatia Rally last Thursday. He was laid to rest in his home city of Waterford on Tuesday. Making his first public comment since the accident at a time when World Rally Championship teams usually host a media hour with all of its drivers, Abiteboul appeared in the Croatia Rally’s media center instead to explain the facts that have been determined from Breen’s fatal accident. 

 Abiteboul confirmed that a fence pole intruded the side window of Breen’s cockpit, and that the 33-year-old succumbed to his issues at the scene. “Craig was laid to rest yesterday and it’s been a very emotional time for all of us,” said Abiteboul. 

 “Emotions are still raw and there has been an amazing outpouring of grief for Craig, who was an incredible person to know, as a team-mate, competitor and friend. “Regarding the accident, we can say that Craig was participating in the pre-event test in Croatia. “Road conditions were slippery and the car slid off the road at a relatively low speed and made contact with a wooden fence. A post from this fence intruded into the cabin through the driver’s side window. 

 “The stage was closed immediately and the on stage medical team was rapidly on the scene. “We must mention that James Fulton was unhurt in the crash and our hearts go out to him. We are doing everything we can to support James at this time. “Craig was taken to hospital from the stage. 

As far as can be determined, Craig’s passing was instantaneous. “Hyundai Motorsport and the FIA are working together to review all aspects of the incident. “As far as can be ascertained, there was no issue with any element of the car, the tires or the safety equipment. 

The local police completed a report at the scene. “Moving to this weekend and Croatia Rally, it was clear from the feedback from all stakeholders, and Craig’s family and friends, that the competitive spirit of Craig would have wanted this weekend’s rally to continue and for his team-mates to participate. 

“We thought long and hard about how to do this and how best to honour Craig. To this end, we are contesting the event with two cars, both running with a special livery to honour Craig, his Irish roots and his beloved Irish rally community. “Craig was a wonderful person and that is true of his family and friends. The rallying community has really pulled together and it’s a mark of the high regard with which Craig was held. 

 “There are a number of initiatives to honor Craig taking place over this weekend. As well as our special livery we have a book of condolence in our hospitality unit that everyone is invited to sign. This will be shared with the family. “This is all we have to say collectively at this stage.”

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

David Higgins set to shake things up at New England Forest Rally.

After departing from his long term commitment with Subaru in 2019, Higgins has been chomping at the bite to make his return. This weekend Higgins returns to tackle New England Forest Rally in a McKenna Motorsports Ford Fiesta, with his sights locked firmly on his old team mate Travis Pastrana.  

Newry Maine: So many scenarios so little time, with the breaking news yesterday that David Higgins will make a return to the ARA Rally Championship this weekend in McKenna Motorsports Ford Fiesta, so many questions come to mind, mainly how his entry will factor in the drivers championship. Theres no question that David is here to help Barry in his quest for win back to back championships, to achieve this Barry has to win every rally from here out. 

 Yes, in case you missed it last year, Barry McKenna a privateer, is the defending 2020 ARA Rally Champion, McKenna managed to better the 2 car Subaru Factory team to take the title in 2020. 

So, scenario 1, road position, road position, road position, especially on day one, dust is nearly always a factor in Maine, much more than loose gravel, there’s currently rain in the forecast for day one, so best case for McKenna would be second on the road that’s assuming we get rain and no dust on day one. 

The Block factor, what role if any will Block play this weekend in Subaru strategy. 

Its not yet clear how many drivers will be in the seated draw, but I expect that Irish driver Marty McCormack who’s also here for a one off drive in Maine in yet another McKenna car has to the speed factor to be in the draw, so there’s no question he will also play a role for McKenna this weekend. 

Scenario 2, the Ken Block factor, so Ken is for the most part running as a privateer, but he is in a Vermont Sports car Subaru Factory spec car, of course Ken is out for the win, he knows no other way, he has vast experience in Maine, but if push comes to shove will Ken play into Subaru’s Championship strategy this weekend, no I did not say “team orders” just strategy. 

 It always Concord Pond this, Concord Pond that, yes of course its one of the most exciting stages in American rally, but its such a short fast stage, theres very little advantage that can be gained. Onto SS3, South Arm, a flat out stage from start to finish, apart from a few pesky chicanes, this is where things will get and have always gotten interesting, winning South Arm and more so the return on Icicle Brook [SS5] often sets a driver up for Saturday and ultimately the overall podium. 

This year the rally organizers have thrown in a little twist between South Arm and Icicle Brook which was always a turnaround stage. They have added Beaver Pond as SS4, this is an old stage that has not been used in years, it’s a fairly short stage with no major challenges but is new to most all drivers, so who knows. So at this time its all eyes on the seeded draw, when we hear the results of the seeded draw then we might take a stab at throwing out a prediction.. or 3

Sunday, June 27, 2021