Irish Rallying

McCourt aims for more European rallies after Portugal taster

Cathan McCourt’s rally season got underway in Portugal last weekend as he prepares for more trips to Europe this year. The Tyrone driver finished 15th on the Terras d’Aboboreira Rally in his Ford Fiesta Rally2.

The Amarante based event proved a tough test but McCourt was happy to get some gravel miles under his belt. McCourt and his new co-driver, Brian Hoy, hope to travel to Poland in June for the European Rally Championship’s opening round.

“I was just trying to get back into the swing of things in Portugal,” explained McCourt, “we weren’t going out there to do any kind of record-breaking stuff.

“We got through it but I just couldn’t really get into it to be honest. The terrain was a bit different to what I would be used to.

“It was rough with big stones and it was just one of those rallies that I had to get through to get some mileage.”

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Two stage cancellations hindered McCourt’s rhythm but the 29-year-old still enjoyed his first rally since the Canary Islands Rally last November.

The Canaries was McCourt’s second ERC outing last year after competing on Rally Liepaja in a Hyundai i20 R5. ERC’s Latvian round takes place just two weeks after Rally Poland this time around and McCourt is eyeing up the double-header.

“We’re looking forward to going to Poland if it takes off. I did Latvia last year and I would definitely like to go back there if it runs this year.

“If things kicked off at home we’d be rallying at home but we didn’t know how things would go so we decided to go out to Europe to do some rallying.

“It’s good experience, you are going out there and getting 200-odd kilometres of rallying – it could be 60 kilometres at home.

“There is definitely a different outlook on it, you have to look at the two days. You have to get through both days and there is a lot more rallying and recceing as well.

“There is a lot more work to it but for experience it is definitely the place to be. A couple of days in a rally car means a lot more than just one day.”

Like many things, McCourt’s plans are all dependent on coronavirus as he admitted it could be a few weeks before Rally Poland’s running was guaranteed.

If all goes to plan McCourt will sample Poland’s uniquely challenging gravel stages along with his NPL team-mates Callum Devine and Jason Mitchell in June.

Photo courtesy of M-Sport

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