Rally driver Craig Breen was killed in an accident Thursday during a test event ahead of a World Championship Race in Croatia, his team said.
Police were investigating the full circumstances of the 33-year-old Irish driver's death, which was attributed to “skidding off track,” Daniel Šaškin, president of the organizing committee of the Croatia Rally, said at a news conference.
Hyundai Motorsport said it was “deeply saddened to confirm” Breen's death “following an accident during the pre-event test” for the Croatia Rally.
“Co-driver James Fulton was unharmed in the incident that occurred just after midday local time," the team said in a statement. "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.”
Breen had competed in World Rally Championship events since 2009 for various teams. The event in Croatia was scheduled to start next week.
“On behalf of the FIA, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Craig Breen following his passing during a private testing accident in Croatia," said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of governing body FIA. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and the entire Rally community at this difficult time.”
Breen was the son of a former Irish national rally champion and began his career in karting. He won several rally titles at various levels of national and international competitions, and was a regular podium finisher in the World Rally Championship. In 2012, he was involved in an accident at a rally in Italy in which his co-driver, Gareth Roberts, was killed.
“The Irish motorsport community is numbed by this tragic news," Motorsport Ireland president Aidan Harper said in a statement. "Craig was a world class driver and a world class person.”