Hyundai chief believes Croatia Rally victory would be perfect tribute to Craig Breen

Irish driver died competing in the race one year ago

Days after Craig Breen's death at the Croatia Rally last year, Hyundai squad signed-off a green, white, and orange livery (Vincent Thuillier/Hyundai Motorsport / Vincent Thu)

HYUNDAI Motorsport President and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul believes winning this week’s Croatia Rally would be a fitting way to honour the memory of Craig Breen a year on from his death.

To mark the first anniversary since the Irishman lost his life during a pre-event testing accident in the country, all three points-scoring Hyundai i20 N Rally1 cars will be clothed in a one-off livery.

Thierry Neuville, Ott Tanak, and Andreas Mikkelsen’s cars will be adorned with the Irish tricolour on their roof and rear bumper for the duration of the three-day event, which starts on Thursday.

On the same event 12 months ago – just days after Breen’s passing – the Alzenau-based squad signed-off a green, white, and orange livery along with some of the 33-year-old’s famous sayings for the cars.

Although more subdued this time around, Abiteboul said it was important to remember the contributions Breen had made during his two-spells with Hyundai, and as a FIA World Rally Championship driver more generally.

“Croatia Rally is the first full tarmac event of the year, but after a milder Rallye Monte-Carlo, we have already had a taste of how the i20 N Rally1 can perform on this surface,” said the Frenchman.

“We have seen success here in the past; we know both Thierry and Ott can put a car on the podium in Croatia, and with Andreas’ capabilities on tarmac, we believe that he can also score good points.

“It is, of course, emotional coming to this event following the loss of Craig one year ago, but we want to honour him on our return and have tried to do so through both our charitable efforts and the addition of the Irish flag on our cars.

“For both Championships, and for Craig, we want to finish as close to the top step as possible. A win would be a fitting end to the weekend,” added Abiteboul.

Craig Breen (Vincent Thuillier/Hyundai Motorsport / Vincent Thu)

The former boss of Renault’s Formula One programme, Abiteboul was the person who brought Breen back into the Hyundai fold for the 2023 campaign following a difficult 12-month spell at M-Sport Ford. His last podium came in a Hyundai with a runner-up finish on last February’s Rally Sweden.

Meanwhile, in a further sign of its commitment to support Breen’s legacy, Hyundai Motorsport have gifted various items for an online auction.

All proceeds will go to the Craig Breen Foundation – a charity created in his honour to support the next generation of home-grown rally drivers and co-drivers.

Items fans can bid for include race helmets, overalls and boots, official merchandise, signed model cars, one-off prints, and the chance to win a passenger ride at a test event in a i20 N Rally1 car.  A full list of items can be viewed by visiting