Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year Callum Devine got his Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) campaign off to an encouraging start in Sweden last weekend. The young Derry driver belied his lack of experience on snow and ice by taking 6th place after 3 days of tough competition on the frozen forest tracks in a Ford Fiesta R2T.
The young Derry driver was more than happy with his JWRC debut having proven himself in Ireland and the UK over the last few years. Speaking after the event Callum said: “It was a big leap to decide to move up to this level but I felt it was the next logical step for me. You learn so much on world championship events and if you want to progress, it’s experience of these rallies you need.” And experience was something Callum certainly gained on the Swedish stages. Rally Sweden is the only full winter round of the championship meaning it is a very specialised event. This, naturally, requires specialist equipment and Callum admits it took him a while to trust the special tungsten studded tyres that are used in such conditions. Callum explains: “I did find it difficult to trust the tyres to begin with, the harder you brake and the more aggressive you are, the more they bite into the ice and the more they work. When you aren’t used to driving on snow though, it’s takes a while for you to believe that there is actually so much grip there. It had a knock on effect on my pacenotes too as it made them harder to trust but as the event wore on, I really grew in confidence and to take away 8 points is better than I was expecting. This is a long championship and this was always going to be my weakest event. It’s a solid start to build on.”
Callum’s next adventure will see him head to the Mediterranean island of Corsica in early April for round 2 of the series. The rally will take place on asphalt, and with that being his preferred surface, Callum will be aiming for a strong performance on the island. The remaining rounds will see the JWRC circus descend on Portugal, Finland and Turkey with Turkey being of particular interest as double points will be on offer. Additional points are also available for each individual stage win on any of the events. The prize at the end of the season will be an R5 Ford Fiesta along with support to tackle some WRC2 rounds in 2019. With over a dozen competitors competing in identical cars, it’s sure to be a hard fought prize.
Callums’s season in the JWRC is supported by Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland, the Team Ireland Foundation, Fyth and Premier Car Parts.