There was heartbreak for Callum Devine as he had to retire in the closing stages of Rally Portugal, round 3 of the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC). 24 year old Callum, the current Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year, had been driving a superb event, comfortably holding 2nd place until he damaged the steering on his Ford Fiesta R2T on the 18th stage of the 20 stage event.
The first loose surface event of the JWRC calendar, Rally Portugal offered a stern challenge to both man and machine however Callum was happy with how his event started. “We knew from the recce that it was going to be an exceptionally tough event and knowing that gravel isn’t my preferred surface, I was quite content to play myself in. By the end of the opening leg I found myself in 4th place which I was quite happy with as I was driving well within myself to try and preserve the car and tyres.” The rough stages got progressively worse as the event wore on with the 400bhp 4 wheel drive World Rally Cars at the head of the field churning up rocks and creating ruts on the gravel roads. The 2nd leg of the rally saw Callum and co-driver Brian Hoy continue their measured approach, to great effect. Callum continues; “The problem running down the order in an R2 car is that in places where WRC and R5 cars go over the bumps and ruts, in a car like ours you go through them. This was in our mind all weekend so we were trying to drive the car as quickly as possible while minimising damage. By the end of leg 2, we found ourselves in 2nd place with a big cushion back to 3rd. Our plan on the final 5 stages on Sunday was just to get the car home but unfortunately that wasn’t to be.”
On stage 18, Callum clipped a bank which broke the steering in the Ford Fiesta R2T forcing him to retire. It was a cruel blow, but one from which Callum aims to bounce back from. “We put in so much effort for this event and for a good result to be snatched away at the last minute is really hard to take. But it happens. Denis Radstrom drove a brilliant rally to win, he was the only JWRC guy that didn’t put a wheel wrong all weekend. No points scored effectively writes off our shot at the title now but there is still a lot to learn on the last 2 rounds in Finland and Turkey. We’re not going to give up just yet!”
The 2018 JWRC is run in association with M-Sport and each competing crew uses identical Ford Fiesta R2T cars. Points are awarded for overall places as well as for each individual stage win. The remaining pair of JWRC rounds will be Finland and Turkey, both gravel events, with Turkey being of particular interest as double points will be on offer. Rally Finland, round 4 of the JWRC takes place from the 26th-29th of July and will be Callum’s next rally.
Callum’s season in the JWRC is supported by Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland, the Team Ireland Foundation, Fyth and Premier Car Parts.