James Fulton, Esapekka Lappi and Members of the World Rally Championship teams, crews, organisers, officials and media pay tribute with a moment of silence to Craig Breen. Alamy Stock Photo
gone but not forgotten

'Empty inside' as drivers race on in shadow of Craig Breen tragedy

The 33-year-old Irishman was killed when his Hyundai car crashed in testing for the Rally of Croatia.

FORMER WORLD rally champion Ott Tanak admitted on Thursday that the death of fellow racer Craig Breen had left him “empty inside”.

Breen, 33, was killed when his Hyundai car crashed in testing for the Rally of Croatia which gets underway on Friday.

“Myself, I’m doing not so bad. It’s difficult, it’s demanding and it’s so hard for all of us,” said 2019 champion and Ford driver Tanak.

“It’s empty inside and it’s eating us alive. It’s tough, but I promised to give a smile to Jackie (Craig Breen’s mother). We keep going and you keep going.”

Irish driver Breen died when he spun and his car hit a wooden pole in testing on 13 April.

“Road conditions were slippery and the car slid off the road at a relatively low speed and made contact with a wooden fence,” said Hyundai team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

“A post from this fence intruded into the cabin through the driver’s side window. As far as can be determined, Craig’s passing was instantaneous.”

Co-driver James Fulton was unharmed.

Breen had been preparing to drive Hyundai’s third car in the Croatia race.

Belgian Thierry Neuville, who is second in the driver standings, and Finn Esapekka Lappi will compete for the team in Croatia.

The cars will be decorated in the colours of the Irish flag.

“We are all very sorry for what happened,” Neuville told on Thursday.

“It’s going to be a tough rally for everybody but as a team and as a rally family we need to be strong and keep going. That is what Craig would have wanted.

“I think we will remember Craig as somebody who lived his dream 110%.”

Eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier said Breen would have wanted the Rally of Croatia, the fourth leg of the world championship, to go ahead.

“Whoever wins this weekend will have a different taste of victory as it is secondary in this moment,” said the French driver.

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