Sport

Breen set to sample the heat of Kenya

While Seamus Power was busy flying the flag in sunny Boston this past weekend, another Waterford man was getting used to the heat of Africa.

Craig Breen has been putting down the final preparations for Rally Kenya. The Safari Rally was first held 69 years ago in celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Challenges in Kenya

This will be Breen's first time pulling up to the start line in Kenya for an event that was dominated last year by Sebastien Ogier and Toyota.

The 2022 edition will be over 363 km of gravel and loose surface track. Drivers will need to maintain an amount of mechanical sympathy due to the challenging conditions on offer. If a car is to be brought home safe those behind the wheel will need to avoid the temptation to approach this event like any other on the calendar.

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"Expecting the unexpected" may well be the order of the day as sudden heavy downpours are always likely which can quickly change the surface from dry and loose gravel to slippery mud in the space of minutes.

The local lad

Breen has offered a mostly positive year for his first season with Ford M-Sport. 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishes in Italy, Monte Carlo and Croatia have been the highlights so far. An eighth-place finish in Portugal was one of the more disappointing results on a weekend where he simply didn't have the pace to compete. His worst result of the season thus far was a 36th place finish in Sweden after an unfortunate crash on the second stage which saw him cough up a huge portion of time.

The Slieverue native has picked up 62 points in the driver's championship and sits 4th overall. Ford will be content with his performance to date as he is their best-ranked driver in 2022. Those points have also helped the Cumbrian team consolidate the third spot in the constructor's championship with 120 points.

The man to watch this weekend will once again be Finland's Kalle Rovanperรค, The Toyota pilot has won three of the five events on the WRC this year and doesn't look to be slowing down.

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If Breen is to have a chance of claiming the top spot, he's going to need to offer his very best - and based on Rovanperรค's recent pace, he'll need to hope the Finn has an off weekend.

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