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Mon 24 Apr 2023

Croatia winners Evans and Martin pay tribute to friend Craig Breen

Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin have paid homage to Craig Breen following their Croatia Rally victory on Sunday afternoon.

The duo delivered a near-perfect drive in a Toyota GR Yaris, managing a healthy lead from Saturday morning onwards when Thierry Neuville crashed out and eventually going on to complete the three-day fixture 27.0sec clear of M-Sport Ford man Ott Tänak.

It was their first win since Secto Rally Finland in 2021, which was before the introduction of the current generation of Rally1 cars, and also their first top-level WRC triumph on asphalt.

“We’ve been close [to winning] a few times now,” Evans said, “but we’ve never quite pulled it together. It was important to get this one on the board and I’m obviously relieved a bit from that side.”

Celebrations were muted at the finish, however, as they remembered friend and fellow WRC driver Craig, who tragically lost life in a testing accident on 13 April.

“It’s difficult to know the right thing to say,” continued the Welshman. “It’s been a tough week for everybody, and I think the whole WRC family can be proud of the way it has come together to pay tribute to Craig. It’s a great showing of his character and how popular he was around the service park.

“We went to see his family last week and it was also their wish that we made sure we enjoyed ourselves. We made them a promise that we would, and obviously we were able to do that. But, of course, now it’s all over, our thoughts turn back to them at this difficult time.”

Co-driver Martin knew Breen better than most having navigated for the Irishman for several years. As a partnership they achieved several victories at national and European level, and also scored their maiden top-flight podiums together in Finland in 2021.

"I was fortunate to share some really special years with Craig," he said. "It seems quite fitting that we have delivered this result this weekend. For sure he was with us this weekend, I think he was with us all, maybe just supporting me more than the rest.

"I’m really particularly proud of the whole service park, everyone has done really well to stick together and support each other, and we have to continue doing that because there's going to be some difficult days still to come when the dust settles a bit from this weekend."

Evans is tied for the drivers’ championship lead with team-mate Sébastien Ogier after round four of 13. With Ogier not competing again until Rally Italia Sardegna in June, Evans will open the road at next month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal (11 - 14 May).

Drivers pay tribute to Craig Breen
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