Described by the World Rally Championship as “a rally fan first and a rally driver second”, Breen was preparing for his second start of the season for Hyundai Motorsport having equalled a career-high second-place finish at Rally Sweden in February. His co-driver James Fulton was unharmed when their off-road crash occurred around midday local time.
The motorsport world has been united in offering tributes to and condolences for Breen with F1 teams Ferrari, Mercedes and Haas, the WRC, former WRC team Citroen and more among those with tributes online following the news of his passing on Thursday (13 April).
Speaking on Thursday evening’s The Way It Is on KCLR, south Kilkenny councillor Pat Dunphy described Breen as “a star and a champion” adding that “anybody from Ireland on a world stage, being successful on a world stage, is going to be a star and rightly so. It takes a lot of work, a lot of skill to get to that particular level and Craig had all of that in abundance.”
Breen’s former team M-Sport Ford tweeted on Thursday “All of us in the @Ford and @MSportLtd family are greatly saddened to hear of the tragic passing of our friend and colleague Craig Breen. Craig was part of the Ford family for many years, most recently as a driver of the WRC Puma. He was embedded in the world of rally at every level of the sport we all love, and we send our heartfelt condolences to all his friends and family.”
The FIA Junior WRC championship described Breen as “an inspirational figure to so many drivers and his love of the sport would bring a smile to anybody he spoke to.”
In a statement on Thursday evening, Motorsport Ireland president Aiden Harper said “the Irish motorsport community is numbed by this tragic news. Craig was a world class driver and a world class person. “
In all, Breen recorded 82 starts in the WRC, claiming six-second places and three third places for three different manufacturers – Citroën, Ford and Hyundai.
Watch: Craig Breen interview with Dirt Fish at Rally Sweden
Online tributes to Craig Breen
We’ve gathered just a taste of the tributes being paid to Slieverue native Craig Breen today.
A minute silence was being held before Friday’s U20 and minor games in Waterford on Thursday evening.