Ott Tänak pays tribute after death of former teammate Craig Breen

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Craig Breen (1990-2023).
Craig Breen (1990-2023). Source: SCANPIX/IMAGO/PanoramiC

Estonian rally driver Ott Tänak has made an emotional tribute to his friend and former WRC teammate Craig Breen, who was killed in an accident Thursday during testing ahead of next weekend's Croatia Rally.

The pair had been teammates at Hyundai 2020-2021, and Breen, 33 and a native of Waterford City, Ireland, continued to drive for the team through to this season.

Tänak posted that: "I can't believe I'm writing this now. Life can be so fragile and unfair."

Craig Breen with Ott Tänak during the latter's Hyundai days. Source: Hyundai Motorsport

"My deepest condolences to Craig's family, friends and all the WRC family. There are no words, everything is just broken."

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A post shared by Ott Tänak (@otttanak)

Irish Embassy opens book of condolence

Ireland's Embassy in Estonia posted Friday that: "We are saddened by the tragic death of Irish rally driver Craig Breen following an accident in Croatia yesterday afternoon."

"Craig's career brought him to Estonia many times, and he won many friends and fans here."

A book of condolence is open for all those who wish to pay their respects, located at the Irish Embassy on Rävala pst 5 in Tallinn.

The book is open until 5 p.m. today, Friday, and will be reopened on Monday, April 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A wreath and candles were also laid in memory of Craig, at the Michael Park memorial on Pirita tee 100, also in Tallinn. Park, a Briton, was co-driver to Estonia's first top WRC driver Markko Märtin and lost his life in an accident at the Wales Rally in 2005.

Wreath and candles laid in memory of Craig Breen (February 2, 1990-April 13, 2023), placed at the Michael Park memorial in Tallinn. Source: Leo O'Neill

Park, and another co-driver, Jörg Bastuck, from Germany, who died in 2006, were the last competitor fatalities to have happened at full WRC level, until Thursday's tragedy.

Wreath laid in memory of Craig Breen, (February 2, 1990-April 13, 2023). Source: Leo O'Neill

Rally Estonia organizer: Breen was always a great pleasure to meet with

Urmo Aava, organizer of Rally Estonia, a full WRC calendar event, told ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" that: "Craig was a very cheerful and determined athlete who was also a big fan of Rally Estonia."

"It was always a great pleasure to be able communicate with him and it was lovely to get to do things with him. I watched him from the sidelines an awful lot, and he was very, very good on fast gravel and snow rallies in particular - those that take place in Finland, Estonia and Sweden. He was certainly at the absolute top of world class drivers," Aava, a former rally driver himself, went on.

"Craig Breen's passing is surely a major loss for the world of rallying. We are all working at all times to ensure that the safety of drivers improves. But this shows what life can be like and how safety is tied up in the small details. None of us are wholly safe from such incidents, unfortunately," he went on.

Breen was at the wheel when the Hyundai i20 struck a roadside pole alongside the course, between the towns of Stari Golubovec and Lobor, at 12.40 p.m. local time. The impact hit the car front-left, leaving Breen with fatal injuries. Co-driver James Fulton, also from Ireland, was uninjured.

This article was updated to include the response from the Irish Embassy in Estonia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Henrik Laever

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