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Craig Breen was the Irish Republic’s first driver on a WRC podium, 31 years after Billy Coleman came fourth on the Tour de Corse, in the days before the FIA made created such a major event of the podium presentation at the end of every round of the championship.  

Many people wondered why Craig was so emotional at the end of the event, forgetting how he had set out on his professional career alongside his friend Gareth Roberts, who died when he and Craig went off the road on the IRC Targa Florio in 2012.   

How quickly we forget things in the sport, but never by Craig.
It’s interesting to note that the Union Jack flag is not being waved at the finish of rallies on the occasions when Kris Meeke wins a WRC event, presumably because his co-driver, Paul Nagle, comes from the Irish Republic.  

For inhabitants in Ireland, North and South, flags are a major political statement, not just to emphasize the differences in political, and also their varying religious convictions.  

All this brings back memories of when the British co-driver, Terry Harryman, from Northern Ireland, swapped his nationality for Rally Argentina with Ari Vatanen in 1985, the occasion when they had their horrendous accident.   

Their Peugeot showed little Irish flags against Terry’s name instead of a little Union Jack, but this was no case of sectarian wisdom.  It was because Britain was ill at ease at that time with Argentina, whereas the Irish Republic was everyone’s friend!

Ari Vatanen's Peugeot 205 T16 sports the Irish flag for Terry Harryman at the 1985 Rally of Argentina.

* * * * *

Many media people really looked forward to going to Jyvaskyla, because it was such an obvious opportunity for an exciting launch for the Toyota Gazoo world championship team, whose headquarters is centred about 15km away from Jyvaskyla.   

Excitement mounted when news came through that the teams were told not to hold their usual promotional functions on the Wednesday evening, as there would be another special function at that time.  

Sadly, it was nothing to do with Toyota, but a very happy occasion when the national tractor manufacturing company, Valtra, held a rally themed family day at their factory.  

Which left us even more unsure what exactly the Gazoo is doing these days. And, speaking of that, what is a Gazoo, anyway?
- Martin Holmes 

RSM issues 600x100

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