Certain drivers would arrive at a stage end interview and their quote would already be predictable. This was never Craig Breen.
WEBWIRE – Thursday, April 13, 2023
A rally fan first and a rally driver second, perhaps only Jari-Matti Latvala could come close to meeting Craigs passion for rallying. Never was this more evident than at the end of a stage where a reporter could be met with every emotion imaginable – from tears of joy to tears of frustration.
In his last start for Hyundai Motorsport at Rally Sweden in February, it was his quick wit and emotional answers that were grabbing the headlines. At one point he declared himself the Mayor of Brattby, a few stages later, tears streaming from his eyes: Dont let anybody ever put you down, because only you know your true potential.
Looking at childhood videos of Craig, it would not surprise anyone to see the Irishman reaching the highest echelon of rallying, as he sped around the garden of his Waterford home in a pedal-powered go-kart with mother Jackie on the stopwatch.
Son of rallying stalwart Ray, Breen initially began his career racing go-karts before transitioning to rallying in 2007. By 2009 he had won the International, British and Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy titles and was crowned Irelands Young Driver of the Year.
The next step was the FIA Junior WRC (then known as WRC Academy) where in 2011 he was crowned champion. His progression through the ranks followed rapidly from third-place finishes behind the wheel of a Peugeot in the European Rally Championship in 2013 and 2014 to a runners-up title in 2015.
In 2016 Breen landed the ultimate prize a factory drive in the WRC with Citron. Success came quickly as he claimed third place at Rally Finland in just his third start for the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team.
In total, the tea-loving Irishman would go on to record 82 starts in the WRC, claiming six second places and three third places for three different manufacturers Citron, Ford and Hyundai.
Breens talent behind the wheel was matched only by his kind and generous nature outside the car. Despite his success in the WRC, Breen never forgot his roots and remained deeply connected to his native Ireland. He often competed in local rallies and regularly gave back to the community, supporting a number of young drivers in his homeland.
Craig will be deeply missed by the WRC family and we extend our sincere condolences to his loved ones.