Hyundai World Rally Championship Driver Craig Breen has passed away after a crash during practice ahead of Rally Croatia next week.
During a pre-event test for the Croatia Rally today in Poland Hyundai Motorsport factory driver Craig Breen lost his life after a horrible crash as co-driver James Fulton escaped unharmed.
Breen suffered serious injuries when the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 ran off the road and struck a pole with the front left side.
The Irishman, who spent a full season with M-Sport in 2022 before switching to Hyundai Motorsport WRC this year, finished in second place at Rally Sweden in February, matching his previous best finishes in Sweden in 2018 and Estonia in 2020 and 2021, Belgium in 2021, and Sardinia in 2022.
Breen returned to the South Korean manufacturer for a second stint and was getting ready for his second WRC appearance as Hyundai’s third driver.
Earlier today, a statement from Hyundai Motorsport confirmed the 33-year-old’s untimely death.
“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,” read the statement.
“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.”
The WRC also released a brief statement: “The WRC family is shocked and saddened to learn of Craig Breen’s passing. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of Craig at this incredibly sad time.”
The son of a rallying father, Ray Breen, Breen began his career in circuit racing but switched to rallying full-time in 2009.
After participating in the national British Rally Championship and Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in 2010, he advanced to the World Rally Championship the following year, where he raced in the WRC Academy and won the first-ever Academy Cup.
Breen finally made it to the top level of rallying in 2016, when he participated in Rally Finland and finished in third place while driving a Citroen DS3 on a part-time basis. Prior to giving up his driving at the conclusion of the 2018 season, he stayed with Citroen.
From 2019 to 2021, Hyundai hired him on a part-time basis; during that period, he finished on the podium in four out of nine rallies.
Breen left Hyundai and joined M-Sport last year, but he returned to Hyundai in 2023. He finished 82 races with 30 WRC stage victories and a total of nine podium finishes.