Written by Apostolos Papageorgiou
Irish World Rally driver Craig Breen tragically passed away earlier today, after suffering an accident during a pre-event test for the upcoming Croatia Rally, taking place next week. Co-driver James Fulton escaped without injuries.
Born on February second, 1990, the son of national rally driver Ray Breen, Graig became involved with motorsport at a young age, when he began karting at the age of nine, before also taking on rallying in 2007 and fully committing to it by 2009. Following in his father’s footsteps, Breen took on various national championships, mainly Irish and British, before heading to the European Rally Championship (ERC) in 2013, where he was first paired up with long time co-driver Paul Nagle. He achieved his first win in the category at the Acropolis round, in Greece, a year later, driving a Peugeot 208 R5.
The Irishman made his WRC debut in the 2014 Swedish Rally, finishing in the points in ninth. Two years later, he joined the Citroen World Rally Team on a part time program, achieving moderate and consistent results, with a podium place at Finland in 2016 being a notable highlight. He remained with the team for the next two seasons, where he demonstrated solid and steady progress, though the highs of his first season were never repeated.
After jumping ship to Hyundai for 2019, Breen’s true pace came alive in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, scoring five top 5 finishes in the seven rallies he started, including three second places-two of them back to back-and a third. These results caught the eye of the M-Sport team, who decided to sing him as their lead driver for the 2022 season, making this his one and only year competing as a full-time rally driver in the WRC.
Things started well with a podium finish in Monte Carlo, but the Irishman quickly found himself overwhelmed by the pressure put on him to lead the team in the new hybrid Rally1 era, coupled with the fact he never really felt comfortable in the Ford Puma, led to a string of unforced errors throughout the year, prompting M-Sport to drop Breen after the end of the season.
He found refuge in his old team, Hyundai, once more in a part-time program, starting at this year’s Rally Sweden. Breen had a strong showing there, leading half the rally before eventually finishing a well deserved second, signaling his return to form. He was due to participate at the upcoming Rally Croatia next week, before Hyundai Motorsport confirmed the tragic events that took place earlier today.
The Divebomb family follows the rest of the motor racing world in extending its condolences to Craig Breen’s friends and Family.