Welsh co-driver Gareth Roberts has died in an accident while competing on the Targa Florio Rally, a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. He was aged just 24.
Co-driver to Irishman Craig Breen since 2009, Roberts was killed when the Peugeot 207 S2000 the pair were in impacted with a guardrail.
They had been sixth overall prior to stage eight, when the accident took place. The remainder of the event on the island of Sicily has been cancelled as a mark of respect.
Roberts began competing in 2004, and enjoyed success with Breen in the Fiesta SportTrophy before the duo won last year's WRC Academy title.
This year they were taking on the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, finishing first in Monaco and second in Sweden to lead the points after three rounds, as well as the IRC. They finished fifth on Breen's home event in Ireland and sixth in Corsica in a Sainteloc Racing-run Peugeot, with their Targa Florio outing being an additional entry with the HRT Motorsport outfit. They had been due to return to Sainteloc for the events in Ypres and Romania.
IRC Manager and former rally driver Jean-Pierre Nicolas said: “It's a very sad accident that reminds us that motorsport is dangerous: accidents can affect both driver and co-driver in rallying. 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.”