Devine dialling Fiesta into Irish Tarmac for Galway

Callum Devine and Brian Hoy start this year’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship as one of the favourites to take Irish rallying’s most coveted crown.

After grabbing three rally wins on the trot in 2021, Devine and Hoy were expected to challenge for victory on November’s Ulster Rally. It wasn’t to be, however, as the in-form duo struggled to match the front pace set by British Rally Championship rivals Matt Edwards and Osian Pryce.

Speaking to Rally Insight ahead of Galway International Rally’s Irish Tarmac opener, Devine explained what happened two months earlier and how he plans to return to form again in 2022.

“It was good to get back home last year with the new [Ford] Fiesta [Rally2],” started Devine.

“But to be honest we weren’t entirely comfortable with the car on Irish tarmac.

“I think it was the extra seat-time that gave us a jump early on.

“Going into the Ulster, we knew from the previous rallies that we had to take a risk with the dampers if we were going to challenge the leaders.

“We tried a different damper to see if that would work for us but unfortunately we didn’t get much of a test before the rally.

“In the end we struggled in a few areas of our set-up to give us the confidence to push on. We needed that confidence to be on the pace of the two guys out front in the Polos.

“Hats off to Matt and Osian, they were on a great pace.

“We tried some things after the Ulster and hopefully we can make some improvements for Galway.

“We’re always trying to improve the set-up and the car is coming stronger now. With more Rally2 Fiestas in Ireland, there will be more familiarity and feedback coming in.

“It’s not far away and M-Sport is putting in a big effort now to help improve things.”

It has been six years since the 27-year-old has competed on the Galway International Rally – and that was in an Opel Adam R2.

With that in mind, Devine is hoping to get a good test on more representative terrain ahead of next weekend’s blockbuster.

The 2021 Cork 20 winner finished third in the Irish Tarmac’s most-recent championship. He skipped 2019’s opener that time around. With Craig Breen now focusing on the World Rally Championship, Devine has a much better chance of picking up his first Tarmac title.

Seeded second, Devine will follow 2020 winner Alastair Fisher off Galway’s opening start-line of the year. A list of international rally winners and Irish Tarmac champions will provide plenty of pressure from behind. But as Devine explains, there will still be time to appreciate Irish rallying back at its best.

“It is always great to be rallying back home on these top class rallies that are right on our doorstep.

“I have gained good experience at this stage, in Junior WRC and ERC, to try out different events.

“But to be honest there is a lot to be said for rallying on proper Irish Tarmac stages.

“The craic is always good between the other crews and with the whole team throughout the rally weekend.

“I’m looking forward to getting at it again and competing in a full season if all goes to plan.”

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Photos by Adam Hall and David Harrigan

Adam Hall

Brought up in the Irish countryside, Adam was never far away from the world of rallying. From following local events like the Circuit of Ireland and the Ulster Rally, Adam now puts the stories from stages all around the world into words through his website Rally Insight.

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