Callum Devine continued his inaugural Junior World Rally Championship campaign on the French island of Corsica where the young Derry driver took an impressive 5th place and 10 useful championship points, although in the closing stages of the event he narrowly missed out on a podium position.
Callum had hoped that the twisting, tarmac Corsican roads would play to his strengths as the current Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year has considerable experience on that surface although he was given a fright on his opening pass of the pre rally shakdown stage where a spin saw him clip a bank and he was lucky to avoid damaging his Ford Fiesta R2T. “It was a bit of a wake up call” Callum recalled. “Yes, it’s a tarmac rally, but not like one I’ve ever done before. I was amazed at the cuts the leaders were taking , it was a real eye opener.”
Another eye opener for Devine was the relentless nature of the stages, some of which were around 50km in length. “I’ve never driven a car, competitively, for that length of time. The level of concentration you need is unbelievable and I struggled slightly on the longer tests. Not only are you trying to take everything in, you are trying to manage your tyres and brakes as well. Having said that, it was the same for everyone and it wasn’t really a surprise that the local guys, JB Franceschi and Terry Folb, were the class of the field.”
Indeed, for the majority of the event, Devine was the best of the rest behind the pair of French flyers. Early on leg 2, Callum took third place and throughout the day consolidated that position ahead of the experienced Swedes Emil Bergkvist and Denis Radstrom, both of whom had competed on the island previously. However, with a podium spot within touching distance, Callum faltered on the penultimate stage of the rally when we ran wide on a corner, clipped a barrier and sustained a puncture. “We were confident of defending our podium position over the final leg but the puncture took the wind out of our sails. We elected to stop and change so as not to damage the car and the resulting time lost dropped us from 3rd to 5th. It was disappointing, but we’re still 5th in the championship. I’ll put it down to experience and the focus is now on the next round in Portugal.”
Rally de Portugal takes place between May 17-20 and will the first gravel rally of the season with the opening events having taken place on snow and tarmac.
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Callums’s season in the JWRC is supported by Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland, the Team Ireland Foundation, Fyth and Premier Car Parts.