Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul has revealed the full details behind how Craig Breen was killed whilst testing for the team in Croatia last week.
Breen was at the wheel of his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 preparing for this weekend's fourth round of the World Rally Championship campaign when he lost his life. Co-driver James Fulton emerged unscathed.
It has now emerged Breen was killed instantaneously after his car slid off the road and he was impaled by a wooden fence post.
Abiteboul said: “Craig was laid to rest yesterday and it's been a very emotional time for all of us.
“Emotions are still raw and there has been an amazing outpouring of grief for Craig, who was an incredible person to know, as a team-mate, competitor and friend.
“Regarding the accident, we can say that Craig was participating in the pre-event test in Croatia.
“Road conditions were slippery and the car slid off the road at a relatively low speed and made contact with a wooden fence. A post from this fence intruded into the cabin through the driver's side window.
“The stage was closed immediately and the on-stage medical team was rapidly on the scene.
“We must mention that James Fulton was unhurt in the crash and our hearts go out to him. We are doing everything we can to support James at this time.
“Craig was taken to hospital from the stage. As far as can be determined, Craig's passing was instantaneous.
“Hyundai Motorsport and the FIA are working together to review all aspects of the incident. As far as can be ascertained, there was no issue with any element of the car, the tyres or the safety equipment. The local police completed a report at the scene.”
Hyundai “thought long and hard” over Croatia entry
Despite the tragedy, Hyundai later took the decision to compete in Croatia with a two-car team. It had planned for three cars but for Breen's passing.
The cars, driven by team-mates Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi, will sport a special Irish flag livery to honour Breen.
Abiteboul added: “Moving to this weekend and Croatia Rally, it was clear from the feedback from all stakeholders, and Craig's family and friends, that the competitive spirit of Craig would have wanted this weekend's rally to continue and for his team-mates to participate.
“We thought long and hard about how to do this and how best to honour Craig. To this end, we are contesting the event with two cars, both running with a special livery to honour Craig, his Irish roots and his beloved Irish rally community.
“Craig was a wonderful person and that is true of his family and friends. The rallying community has really pulled together and it's a mark of the high regard with which Craig was held.
“There are a number of initiatives to honour Craig taking place over this weekend. As well as our special livery we have a book of condolence in our hospitality unit that everyone is invited to sign. This will be shared with the family.
“This is all we have to say collectively at this stage.”