Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Rally driver death 'freak accident'

Gareth Roberts was regarded as a rising star in the motorsport world

The father of a rising rally star killed during a race in Italy has said no one is to blame for his son's death.

Gareth Roberts was the co-driver of a Peugeot 207 driven by Irish team-mate Craig Breen at the Targa Florio rally in Sicily last June.

The 24-year-old, from Carmarthen, West Wales, died when the vehicle smashed into a crash barrier on a high-speed section of the Cefalu stage. Driver Breen survived.

An inquest heard that Santeloc team member Roberts was a star in the making following his meteoric rise in the sport and was an "inspirational person" to be around.

After leaving school at 16, Roberts set up his own electrician business as well as bagging countless motorsport accolades. His skills as a co-driver did not go unnoticed and saw him turn pro after winning last year's World Rally Championship Academy event.

Roberts's proud father Michael, a one-time Welsh rally champion himself, spoke glowingly of his son's achievements and urged Breen to keep on winning titles.

He said: "You can't blame the sport and I don't blame Craig. It was a freak accident. Fair play to Craig, he has carried a lot on his shoulders and just won the SWRC World Championship again. I know Gareth would have wanted him to carry on. The hardest thing to accept is I've seen Gareth and Craig come out of horrendous crashes - 10 times worse - and there wasn't a mark on them. But he died doing what he loved doing - he was living out his dreams and accepted the risks that came with it."

Last June, Breen and Roberts were eyeing up further glory during the Sicilian leg of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

Their race got off to a reasonable start, with the pair posting a sixth place finish at Stage 7. However, during Stage 8 tragedy struck, the inquest at Llanelli Town Hall heard. Breen's Peugeot 207 began to understeer at a "fast corner" before crashing into a roadside barrier.

Coroner Mark Layton gave the cause of death as multiple injuries resulting from a car accident before recording a verdict of accidental death.

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