THE inspiration for a new trophy that has been created in memory of the late Craig Breen was the “incredible impact” he made during his time in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC).
Irishman Breen triumphed in the one-make Ford Fiesta competition back in 2011 on the final stage of Rally GB and used that success to clinch the S2000 World Rally Championship title the following season.
He went on to enjoy two decorated spells with Hyundai Motorsport, and also represented Citroen Racing and M-Sport Ford in the FIA World Rally Championship, amassing 82 starts, and a total of six second places and three thirds in a top-flight career that spanned over seven years from 2016.
Last April, whilst taking part in a pre-event test exercise for Croatia Rally, the 33-year-old lost his life after the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car he was driving left the road and crashed into a wooden post.
His co-driver and countryman, James Fulton, managed to walk away from the low-speed accident, which occurred on a country road that was described at the time as “slippery”, largely unscathed.
Maciej Woda – M-Sport Poland Managing Director and Junior WRC manager – said: “Craig has left an incredible mark on the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, first as a competitor and later as a mentor. Craig always found the time to offer advice and support to our next generation of stars.
”Craig also holds an incredibly special place in my own memory because he was the first champion after the series became run by M-Sport Poland,” he added.
“It is important that we acknowledge his incredible impact on the championship, and we believe this award best honours his legacy.”
The Craig Breen Spirit of Rallying Award winner will be selected from the 2024 junior field, which stands at a record-breaking nineteen entrants for the first round in Sweden this coming weekend.
It will be awarded to the driver who, over the course of the season, is seen to embody Breen’s finest characteristics, including a willingness to overcome adversity; an unwavering determination to take on every obstacle to complete every rally; and a demeanour that is outgoing and positive.
Woda has confirmed that the inaugural recipient of the Craig Breen Spirit of Rallying Award will be decided by an independent panel of judges at the fifth and final round of the 2024 Junior World Rally Championship – EKO Acropolis Rally Greece – which takes place from September 5-8.