PARK Rally Driver Callum Devine looks set for a move to the World Rally Championship next season, after being named as the Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year.
Devine was also shortlisted in the top three for the prestigious award last season and continued success in 2017 saw the 23 year-old rise to the top.
Devine had many standout performances - particularly winning the Junior British Rally Championship and claiming victory in his class at the Ypres Rally in Belgium.
As well as the impressive Billy Coleman Cup, Callum will receive support to the value of €50,000 for the 2018 season.
“I knew I would be in the running for it. I knew Kevin (Eves) had a good year and he has been up for it before. I thought they might go for him as well…but I am happy to get it,” Devine commented.
Devine was presented with his award at Dublin’s Mansion House and a short two hours later, he was on a flight to Krakow.
“I am over in Poland. I came over to look ahead for the Junior World Rally Championship next year. The cars are all run out of M Sport Poland. We came over to a ‘meet and greet’ to get a run down on what way it is working,” Devine told the County Derry Post.
"I came over to look ahead for the Junior World Rally Championship next year."
“The way the WRC works, they keep all the cars the exact same. They are all run by the same team, they have the same mechanics – everyone is equal. Everybody will be driving a Ford R2 - like I did at the start of the year,”
Devine admitted it was something he thought about, as he moved up through the ranks. With the Irish and British titles both secured, as well as being named as Young Driver of the Year, he is ’95 per cent’ certain of joining the WRC.
“I put it down in my proposal for the award. If I won the award I would go to the World Championship. It would be nice to sample the World Championship when I am young.
“I said at the start. I will try the WRC and once that award (Billy Coleman) came up, it fell into place. There is no better chance we are going to get at it – with the support Team Ireland and the help they give you,” Devine continued.
“It would be nice to sample the World Championship when I am young.”
The season starts in February on snow in Sweden, with a further four rounds – Poland, Corsica, Finland before concluding in Turkey in September. The time between the rounds will be vital, as Devine explains.
“It gives you time for a bit of prep in between. I could be doing rallies back in Ireland because most of them (WRC stages) are on gravel.
“I could do the Irish Forestry event at home, things like that to keep active. It is well spread out, you need to be in car to be close to the pace. The guys that are doing it are all very fast. That’s what they are destined to do. They are sent to Latvia when they are 13, 14, and 15 - in R2 spec cars.”
The weekend’s snow played havoc with the sporting calendar, but Devine will need similar conditions to prepare for the opening round, something he has given thought to.
“We were thinking, we have never driven in snow before and some of these boys have been brought up in snow. It is like picking up a Gaelic ball for the first time and trying to play against some of the top boys. It is going to be hard.
“This week we will have to get things in place to see if we can get testing in snow before it (Sweden round) and if we can get that easy enough - that is the route we are going to go down.”
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