Irish Rallying World Rally Championship

Coyne conquers unique demands of Rally Mexico

Another line has been added to John Coyne’s list of rallying achievements after the 1982 Irish Tarmac Champion completed his first World Rally Championship event on last weekend’s Rally Mexico. Coyne and co-driver Stephen Joyce battled through the physical demands of the high-altitude event to finish an impressive 15th overall and third in the NACAM Rally Championship in their Ford Fiesta R5.

“I’m delighted,” said Coyne. “My results were better than I expected given the strength of the field this year and the notoriously tough and unforgiving Mexican stages. I imagine, not too many drivers in their 70th year and 53rd year of rallying can claim a 15th overall WRC finish.

“As usual for me on most rallies, I was at my most competitive straight out of the traps on the first real stage of the rally, the awesome 31.5 kilometres of El Chocolate. I was 17th overall with the full field still running, despite cooking the brakes after 25 kilometres and having to slow for a few kilometres to cool them. I was really pleased with that.”

In addition to a two-day pre-event test in Arizona, Coyne prepared for the challenge by intensifying his training regime. Despite the extra effort, Coyne admitted the heat and altitude remained the most taxing part of the WRC event.

“The heat and altitude combined with my age proved to be physically exhausting. Funny enough the toughest part was the traffic in and out of the city where the service park was. The slow speed meant there was no airflow in the cockpit. Once moving on the stages things were much better.”

After a decade away from rallying, Coyne returned to the stages in 2014 driving his ITRC-winning Talbot Sunbeam. Since then he has driven various R5s and the 360 bhp Porsche 997 RGT as well as becoming a key piece in Motorsport Ireland’s young driver development. Looking back, Coyne maintained his Irish Tarmac and National Rally Championship victories still stood out on his list of achievements.

“On individual events, my fourth overall on the 1982 Circuit of Ireland with Christy Farrell was memorable because we kept our nerve under pressure. It was mentally taxing whereas Mexico was more physically exhausting.”

Coyne had planned to compete on the next round of the ARA Rally Championship this weekend but, like many events, the 100 Acre Wood Rally has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To finish, the retired engineering CEO left us a sensible piece of advice.

“The best way to accelerate the return of the sport we love is to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus by following public health guidelines.”

Photo by Timo Anis

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