Craig Breen (left) and Gareth Roberts
Gareth Roberts, a 24-year-old Welsh rally co-driver with a promising career ahead of him, died this weekend during the Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia rally after the Peugeot 207 Super 2000 piloted by driver Craig Breen was skewered by a guardrail.
The accident is eerily reminiscent of former F1 driver Robert Kubica's crash
at the Ronde di Andora rally in early 2011. While Kubica got away with his life, he has undergoe extensive rehabilitation, and has not yet made his return to F1 racing.
Roberts began his rally partnership with Breen in 2009, and in 2011 the duo won the inaugural FIA WRC Academy Cup. The Targa Florio race where Roberts lost his life is part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).
Roberts will be missed, not just by his family, team, and driver, but by the series he raced in. “It’s a very sad accident that reminds us that motorsport is dangerous: accidents can affect both driver and co-driver in rallying," said IRC manage Jean-Pierre Nicolas. "As the President of the Automobile Club Palermo, Antonio Marasco, said after the accident, the Targa Florio is an event where many great champions have left us in the past, and sadly this has happened again. The death of a 24-year-old young man at the start of a fantastic career is always a tragedy. From the start of this year, together with Craig Breen, Gareth has put in some excellent performances and the crew really got themselves noticed. There’s no doubt in my mind that these performances would have got even better. At this terrible time, I’m thinking very much of Gareth’s family, to whom all of us at Eurosport Events pass on our sincere condolences.”
The sad and sobering results of Roberts' crash are a reminder of the dangers of rallying, and racing in general. Even with the wonders of modern FIA-approved crash structures and safety equipment, physics, chance, and the fragility of the human body still play a role. It's in part the assumption of that risk, the bravery of doing so, that makes racing one of the great human endeavors. The tragedy of a life lost in racing, however, is always heart-wrenching.
Our thoughts go out to Roberts' family and all who knew him.