Yesterday the world of rally and motorsport lost a true star who sadly never got to show his true potential.
Craig Breen sadly lost his life in a pre-event test during a crash while preparing for next weeks Rally Croatia. The Irishman collided with a pole beside of the road around about midday local time in Croatia. Shortly after Croatian police and media reported that a death had occured but it was unconfirmed at the time who it was. Hyundai Motorsport released a statement which confirmed Breen's death.
Hyundai Motorsports statement read: "Hyundai Motorsport is deeply saddened to confirm that driver Craig Breen today lost his life following an accident during the pre-event test for Croatia Rally.
Co-driver James Fulton was unharmed in the incident that occurred just after midday local time.
Hyundai Motorsport sends its sincerest condolences to Craig’s family, friends and his many fans.
Hyundai Motorsport will make no further comment at this time."
Breen was set to compete in his second rally of the 2023 season with Hyundai. His first was at Rally Sweden where the Irishman looked as competitive as ever claiming multiple stage wins and going into the final day of the rally was sitting in 1st and eventually finishing in second place. In his final stage end interview Breen said "Don't let anybody ever put you down, because only you know your true potential." The Irishman clearly emotional after a brilliant comeback rally after a tough season at M-Sport in 2022.
Craig Breen started his career in go-karts but in 2007 made the switch to rallying following in the footsteps of his father Ray Breen. In 2009 Breen took to the international stage winning the International, British and Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy titles and later that year crowned Ireland’s Young Driver of the Year.
In 2011 he went on to win the Junior WRC championship then known as WRC Academy. He then made the switch to the European Rally Championsip (ERC) having consecutive 3rd place finishes in the championship in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 Breen took home a runners up title for the ERC.
A year later in 2016 Breen's dreams came true landing a part time drive with the factory Citreon team. Success came quickly for the Irishman finishing 3rd at Rally Finland just his 3rd outing in a WRC car competitively.
Craig would go on to record 82 WRC starts for 9 podiums for 3 different manufacturers with Citreon, Ford and Hyundai. Unfortunately Breen never on the top step of a WRC podium but with the form he first showed in Sweden earlier this year, no doubt that a victory would have come sooner or later.
Craig will be deeply missed by the rally community and we send our sincere condolences to his family and friends in this difficult time.