Irish rally driver Craig Breen was Ireland’s “most successful, talented and decorated competitor” in the sport, according to Motor Sport Ireland.
Craig was tragically killed in a crash in Croatia yesterday during a pre-test event ahead of the Croatia Rally later this month.
The crash happened just after midday local time on Thursday – and local police are now investigating what happened.
His co-driver James Fulton was unharmed in the incident, his Hyundai Motorsport team said.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Motor Sport Ireland Sporting Manager Art McCarrick said the entire Irish motorsport community is “absolutely shocked and saddened” at the tragedy.
“Craig was our most successful, talented and decorated competitor,” he said.
“His father Ray was a former national champion.
“Craig was a motorsport fan through and through. He started karting from the age of eight and won the national Junior Karting Championship in 2004, switched to rally driving in 2008 and from there, his rise was pretty meteoric.”
He said Craig won a host of awards throughout his career – including the World Rally Championship Academy Series in 2011.
“I knew Craig both professionally and personally,” he said.
“His father Ray, his mother Jackie, his sister Kelly, his nephew, family and friends.
“Craig had nine World Rally Championship podium finishes – including six second-place finishes
“To put it into context, where he was in the sport, there are only three manufacturer teams at the top of the World Rally Championship and he was on one of those teams.”
He said Craig was more than just a competitor in the sport.
“He was also a huge fan and always wanted to give back to the sport,” he said.
“He supported younger drivers here as well.”
The President of the world motorsport governing body FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Mohammed Ben Sulayem offered his sincere condolences to the Irish driver’s family and friends.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and the rally community at this difficult time,” he said.
The World Rally Championship said it was "shocked and saddened" at the news while Motorsport Ireland described Craig as “a world-class driver and a world-class person”.
Main image shows Craig Breen during Round Nine of the FIA World Rally Championship in Jyväskylä, Finland. Image: Philip Fitzpatrick/Sportsfile