For the rest of this season, Scott [Martin, Craig's co-driver] and I will be doing Spain and Wales Rally GB. In many ways, having our future assured with Citroën until the end of 2018 lifts a big weight off my shoulders. But, as you would expect at this level, there does remain the expectation to deliver – but that expectation comes from a team where I am so, so comfortable.
Honestly, I’ve never felt more at home. I know Kris [Meeke, lead driver with Citroën Racing] well and his co-driver Paul [Nagle] has co-driven for me. Then there’s Chris Patterson – Sheikh Khalid’s co-driver – who’s somebody I know really well from back home; it’s a bit of an Irish takeover of a French team! And then there’s my other team-mate: Stéphane Lefebvre, who is somebody I’ve been close friends with for a long time.
It’s the perfect set-up.
Almost the perfect set-up.
The one thing missing is Jaffa. Gareth Roberts was my co-driver until 2012, when he died in a crash while we were competing in Sicily. The dream I’m living now is the one Jaffa and I always thought we’d live together. I miss him every day, but I know he’s with me by my side in every stage.
As you can imagine, the past few years have been pretty emotional for all involved in what I’ve been doing. There have been some big highs, winning the WRC Academy with Jaffa in 2011 was unreal. It came down to the last stage of the last rally, but we did it. Winning SWRC a year on was just as emotional, but for different reasons.
And now this, it’s just incredible. I have so many people to thank for helping Scott and me get into the position we’re in now. As well as everybody at Citroën and Sheikh Khalid, I have to thank my family. They have put absolutely everything into my career and this opportunity. We’ve all been able celebrate for a wee while, but there’s a job to do now and that’s where the focus has to be.
And that’s where it will be… just as soon as this news sinks in!
Craig Breen was talking to David Evans.
Photography courtesy of Citroën.