Published: 10:15, April 14, 2023 | Updated: 10:25, April 14, 2023
Irish driver Breen dies after testing crash in Croatia
By Reuters

Craig Breen of Ireland celebrates by his Ford Puma Rally1 on the podium on June 5, 2022 in Alghero, after placing second of the Rally of Sardegna, 5th round of the FIA World Rally Championship. (PHOTO / AFP)

Ireland's top rally driver Craig Breen has died after an accident in a pre-event test for the Croatian round of the world championship, his Hyundai team said in a statement on Thursday.

The team gave no details of the accident just after midday local time but said co-driver James Fulton was unharmed.

Media reported that Breen's car went off the road and collided with a pole while the 33-year-old was preparing for next week's rally, his second of the season.

Breen, who started out as a co-driver before switching to driving in 2008, finished second in Rally Sweden in February when he made his return to the team on a part-time basis after a year with M-Sport Ford.

He was a world championship regular over the years, although rarely for a full season, and while not a winner he finished second in six rallies.

"The Irish motorsport community is numbed by this tragic news. Craig was a world class driver and a world class person," said Motorsport Ireland president Aiden Harper in a statement of condolences.

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Breen is the first fatality in the world championship since German junior co-driver Joerg Bastuck in the 2006 Rally of Catalunya.