An accident during stage 8 of the IRC Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia has resulted in the death of Craig Breen's co-driver, 24-year-old Gareth Roberts.

According to reports, the pair's Peugeot 207 S2000 hit a guardrail while running in sixth place in round 5 of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on Saturday morning.

Breen was uninjured in the accident and no spectators were involved, but the initial reports said that the guardrail broke into the car's cockpit on the right hand side and struck Roberts.

The stage was immediately stopped and medical teams attended the scene, but Roberts succumbed to his injuries. The rally was then abandoned.

"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 Manager 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."

2012 was Roberts' first major campaign in IRC and had already seen points finishes in both the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in April and Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse in May with Saint?loc Racing. The pair had picked up this weekend's extra outing in Sicily with HRT Motorsport to continue their development ahead of next weekend's Ypres Rally.

From Carmarthen in Wales, Roberts originally trained as an electrician and began competing in rally in 2004, earning success in the one-make Fiesta SportTrophy series and pairing with Breen for the first time in 2009, going on to win the inaugural FIA WRC Academy Cup in 2011.

"The death of a 24-year-old young man at the start of a fantastic career is always a tragedy," said Jean-Pierre Nicolas. "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."

All of us at are also thinking of Gareths' family and friends at this tragic time and similarly offer our deepest condolences.