How Brattby remembered its adopted mayor Breen

Craig Breen bossed the Brattby stage on this year's Rally Sweden, warming himself to a brand-new community

Breen Brattby pic

On Monday February 13 the world went home. Joakim Åström went to work. He went through Brattby towards the E12 and onward to his desk. Feelings were mixed. There were smiles, but there was sadness.

Åström, like the vast majority of folk in Västerbotten County, had spent the weekend being thrilled by Craig Breen. Having watched the Irishman dance his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 down their lanes, past their front doors, they were all fans. All in favor of his self-elected title of mayor of Brattby.

Åström, more than most, had needed the lift the eventual Rally Sweden runner-up provided after his uncle unexpectedly passed away just days before the start of the rally. Roland ‘Mikro’ Åström was very much a man at the heart of the organization of Sweden’s World Rally Championship qualifier.

Breen brought light to some dark days in the Åström household.

On April 13, those lights went out again.

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“I became a big fan of Craig during this year’s Rally Sweden,” Åström told DirtFish. “The joy in his eyes appealed to me in a genuine way – especially as I myself had great sadness with my uncle.

“Roland loved organizing rallies to bring joy to other people and Craig’s smile after the Brattby stage showed that he succeeded.”

Breen and co-driver James Fulton truly bossed those two runs through Brattby. They took the best in the world to the cleaners.

Brattby will forever be Craig’s stage now. Maybe this is the place to start the campaign to get the 6.7-miler renamed.

A week or so after Craig’s funeral, one Brattby local made a sign to remind everybody what had been. And gone.

Back on the road towards the E12 and work in Umeå, Joakim saw the sign and had to stop.

“I pass Brattby every day,” he said. “I didn’t put the sign up, but when I saw it, I had to take a picture.

“The fact that Craig gave me joy in a difficult time made it very hard to hear that he’d passed away. However, one can take some comfort in the fact that both Roland and Craig died doing what they love most.”

DirtFish would like to thank Joakim for taking a picture which will forever raise a smile and help bring a light of its own to these dark days.