Callum Devine at Rally Latvia
Park rally driver Callum Devine's 'learning year' in the FIA European Rally Championship continues to dish out harsh lessons.
An accident in stage six of last weekend's Rally Liepāja in Latvia, saw him forced out of the race. Devine, the current Motorsport Ireland International Driver of the Year, was out to make amends following an early retirement on the opening round in Italy late last month.
Callum missed the pre event shakedown and qualifying due to an issue with his Hyundai i20 R5, but the mechanics had ready for the start of the event.
He was beginning to grow in confidence on his first loose surface event at this level. Steady driving saw Callum and co-driver Brian Hoy work their way into the top 10 early on day two and up to fourth place among the ERC1 Junior crews.
It all came to an end on stage six , as Devine recalls.
“We were actually just starting to get into it and growing in confidence. As I mentioned before the event, it’s not a place you want to get things wrong as the speeds are so high. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
"We carried a bit too much speed into a fast right hander and caught the undergrowth on the outside of the corner, sending us into a roll and out of the event. Myself and Brian are okay, just a little sore and thankfully all the safety equipment stood up to the accident, the Hyundai is a strong car.
"I’m just so disappointed for all the team who worked so hard over the last month. To have taken just one point from the opening pair of rallies is sickening and doesn’t reflect all the work we’ve put in, hopefully we can put it right before the end of the season.”
Devine’s accident casts some doubt over his participation in the next round of the championship, Rallye Azores in mid-September.
The PCRS team will assess the damage to the car in the coming days but even if it can be sorted in time to make the boat to travel to the Azores, presently Portugal and its associated territories aren’t on the Irish 'green list' for travel.
“If the car can be sorted for Azores, travel restrictions could be an issue. As it stands, not only myself and Brian, but also all the mechanics would have to isolate for two weeks after returning to Ireland after the rally.
"I work between events so to isolate for two weeks upon return would be a big problem. Obviously government guidelines are changing all the time so we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s worth pointing out this isn’t just a problem for us, it’s a problem for all competitors and teams in the championship.”
While Rallye Azores may be in doubt, one thing that isn’t in doubt in Devine’s commitment to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy.
“I realise how lucky I am to have this opportunity and I’m ready to knuckle down and refocus in preparation for our next ERC event,” Devine continued.
Following Rallye Azores, the remaining rounds of the 2020 ERC will take place in Cyprus, Hungary and the Canary Islands.
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