WRC star Craig Breen has died aged 33, following a testing crash in Croatia. He had been a mainstay in the top level of rallying since 2014, most recently driving for the Hyundai team in 2023 and made his Goodwood racing debut in 2022.
The Irishman began his racing career in karts before making the switch to rallying in 2007. He made his debut at a WRC event at the 2009 Rally Portugal in a Ford Fiesta ST, appearing sporadically for the next few years, rallying at the top level for Citroën and then Hyundai for several seasons.
For 2022 Breen secured his first full time drive as the lead driver for M-Sport in its Ford Pumas, taking two podiums on the way to seventh in the championship. While that partnership ended after one season, he returned to Hyundai, rejuvenated, and secured a podium first time out at Rally Sweden.
Earlier in this career Breen was the 2011 WRC academy champion and won the second-tier SWRC championship in 2012. He was the runner up in the 2015 European Rally Championship. At the top level he finished on the WRC podium nine times.
Outside of his WRC exploits, Breen was active in historic racing and rallying, and enjoyed spending time in his own collection of classic rally cars. He raced at the Goodwood Revival in 2022, taking the wheel of a Lotus Cortina in the St. Mary’s Trophy.
In a statement, Hyundai said: “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.
“Hyundai Motorsport sends its sincerest condolences to Craig’s family, friend and his many fans.”
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem also paid trbute, writing: “On behalf of the FIA, I extend sincere condolences to the family & friends of Craig Breen following his passing during a private testing accident in Croatia.
"Our thoughts & prayers are with his loved ones & the Rally community at this difficult time”