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Rally world pays tribute after deadly crash in Sicily

June 16, 2012 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts competed at the Tour de Corse in May.
Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts competed at the Tour de Corse in May.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rally navigator dies after crash in Italian race
  • Gareth Roberts was a promising navigator from Wales
  • His death at age of 24 brings tributes from rally world

(CNN) -- The rallying world has paid tribute to promising young co-driver Gareth Roberts, who was killed during a race in Sicily on Saturday.

The 24-year-old from Wales was navigating for Irish driver Craig Breen at the Targa Florio Rally, and they were sixth overall when they crashed.

Breen was unhurt in the accident, but Roberts died from his injuries according to the motorsport's official website.

They won the inaugural FIA WRC Academy title last year, and were leading the Super 2000 World Rally Championship after three races.

"Our thoughts are with Gareth's friends and family. The world of rallying has lost a true talent," said M-Sport, the company which built the Ford Fiesta S2000 Breen and Roberts were using in the SWRC.

The Mille Miglia, or "Thousand Miles," is a grand tour from Brescia in northern Italy, down to the capital city of Rome, and back again. Today, it is a leisurely classic car event. But it has a far racier history... The Mille Miglia, or "Thousand Miles," is a grand tour from Brescia in northern Italy, down to the capital city of Rome, and back again. Today, it is a leisurely classic car event. But it has a far racier history...
Mille Miglia magic
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Mille Miglia - Classic car race Mille Miglia - Classic car race
Sebastien Loeb is the king of the World Rally Championship. The Frenchman has won an unrivaled eight world titles and has claimed victory at the Monte Carlo Rally on five occasions. Sebastien Loeb is the king of the World Rally Championship. The Frenchman has won an unrivaled eight world titles and has claimed victory at the Monte Carlo Rally on five occasions.
King Sebastien
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The Monte Carlo Rally The Monte Carlo Rally

"I heard the sad news from Italy. Me and Jarmo want to send our condolences and our thoughts to Gareth's family and friends on this sad day," top Finnish rally driver Mikko Hirvonen wrote on networking website Twitter.

This season's WRC Academy leader Alastair Fisher said: "I cannot believe what's happened. I'm totally devastated. My thoughts are with Gareth's family and of course Craig."

Tire supplier Pirelli, who worked with Breen and Roberts last year, also offered condolences.

"Words cannot express our shock and sadness," said the company's motorsport director Paul Hembery.

Last year, Breen acknowledged Roberts' contribution after they sealed the WRC Academy title in November.

"He's kept my feet on the ground this weekend, which is not an easy job. Having to leave service for the last three stages knowing there was no possibility other than to win them all was very difficult," Breen said.

"But he's really kept me on the straight and narrow so it's all credit to him. He's the littlest Welsh wizard but the best of them for sure."

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