Fri 14 Apr 2023

ERC stars pay tribute to Craig Breen

Some of the FIA European Rally Championship’s leading lights have paid tribute to friend and colleague Craig Breen, who sadly passed away on Thursday.

Breen drove works-supported Peugeots to third overall in the 2014 and 2015 ERC seasons before going one better the following year, leading to the ultimate prize - a WRC drive. But, despite his WRC success, he never remained far away from ERC action.

After taking a fifth European championship win on the Circuit of Ireland Rally in 2016 he returned to the series with Team MRF Tyres through 2020 and 2021.

This year, driving for Team Hyundai Portugal at Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto, Breen and co-driver James Fulton finished sixth overall despite a costly puncture.

Hayden Paddon, former WRC rival to Breen and current championship leader, wrote: “This is just not right. You were a legend of a human being and a driver. The sport is poorer without you. RIP Craig, and my thoughts are with all your family at this devastating time.”

A message from Team MRF Tyres read: “MRF Tyres will always remember the start you gave us to our ERC journey. Rest in peace Craig Breen, you will be missed,” while Andrea Mabellini, who drives a Fabia for the Indian tyre team, added: "I don't think there are words for what happened today, I am broken. Rest in peace Craig."

Breen's Team Hyundai Portugal team-mate Ricardo Teodósio shared a touching memoir.

"It's with huge sadness we're speaking of the loss of a friend and colleague," Teodósio said. "I remember telling him I needed some help to be faster and him replying 'no', I was the one that needed to help him! These are words that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Also paying tribute was Frenchman Yoann Bonato, who added: “How sad. I was blessed to have been around you and you will be truly missed Craig. All my thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

Breen's passing was reported in leading media outlets across the globe with Formula 1, Formula E and MotoGP among the championships to send condolences to his family and friends. A number of Formula 1 teams, including Alpine and Mercedes also shared messages.

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