Devine: Irish Tarmac race now down to rally wins

A winless start to the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship was not how Callum Devine envisioned his first three rallies of 2022.

A car change and co-driver swaps seemed unsettling but it finally looks like he has found “the package” halfway through the season.

Devine was as focused as I’ve ever seen over Killarney Rally of the Lakes’ two days of competition. With local co-driver Noel O’Sullivan partnering him in the Volkswagen Polo, Devine knew he had to get his first win of the year on the board.

He was running out of time.

One problem – Alastair Fisher was in a similar frame of mind.

Fisher built up an early lead in Killarney that Devine clawed back bit-by-bit over Sunday’s eight stages. Three seconds was all that separated the two drivers with one stage to go. Irish Tarmac Championship leaders Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes were over a minute behind.

Something had to break.

Break or brake? Well, Fisher ever so slightly misjudged the latter on Caragh Lake, sliding off the road and handing victory to his ITRC rival.
Devine finally had an Irish Tarmac rally win to his name, reigniting his championship challenge in the process.

With Donegal up next, Devine is many’s favourite to set the pace on a rally neighbouring his home county of Derry. If he can repeat his performance from 2019, they could very well be right.

I reckon Donegal should be Devine’s strongest round of the Irish Tarmac Championship. But 2019’s top R5 finisher knows Fisher and Moffett will once again provide tough competition.

“Donegal is the event I have most experience of,” explained Devine. “So in that sense, it should probably be my strongest.

“I love Donegal, I love the atmosphere, and it has a great buzz for the whole team to enjoy the weekend.

“It might be my strongest event but I’d say Josh and Alastair are looking at it the same way as they both have had some great results there.

“Just because I enjoy it doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier than the rounds so far in the Tarmac Championship. The battles have been tight and I expect the same come Donegal weekend.”

Two wins and two runner-up finishes give Josh Moffett an assured grip on Irish Tarmac’s top spot in the standings. Devine regained three points on Moffett in Killarney and is far from ready to rule out his championship hopes.

With three rounds remaining, the 28-year-old is making his championship conundrum as simple as possible.

“The only way I am looking at catching Josh is getting more wins,” said Devine. “I would say Alastair is looking at it the same way. Josh is on two, I’ve got one and Alastair has one.

“I think it will go down to who has the most wins at the end of the year. I’m not going to do any more equations to work out what happens if he doesn’t finish or anything like that.

“I’m just aiming to beat them on the remaining events. It won’t be easy but I’m here to give it a rattle.”

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Photos by Ruaidhri Nash and Adam Hall

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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