There will be plenty of Motorsport Ireland representation in Portugal later this month for the opening round of the FIA European Rally Championship. The official entry list for Rally Serras de Fafe is set to be released on Monday of this week. Already at least three Irish crews are preparing to travel to Portugal for the event and more could on stream by the time the official entry list is published. World Rally Championship driver Craig Breen and his co-driver James Fulton are leading the Irish challenge.
The March 10-12 Rally Serras de Fafe doubles as the opening round of the Portuguese Rally Championship and Breen and Fulton are contesting the full series under the Hyundai Portugal banner in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 alongside his World Rally Championship programme with the Korean manufacturer.
“I am very excited about this project,” said Breen. “It will be very challenging to compete simultaneously in both [the WRC and Portuguese] championships, and I feel very motivated to compete in Portugal with Team Hyundai Portugal.” Breen has previously won five rounds of the ERC. His last ERC start was the 2021 Rally di Roma Capitale with Team MRF Tyres.
The Waterford/ Cavan pairing has not been idle since their second place at WRC Rally Sweden two weeks ago. They contested the County Cavan Motor Club Navigation Trial on Saturday night.
Despite their experience on the world stage, they were considered beginners for this entry-level form of motorsport. They finished second in class making it two podiums in as many weeks.
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Josh McErlean is also entered in the gravel event. He will drive a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 Rally 2 in a high-speed test ahead of the Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship in May.
He will be co-driven by Brian Hoy as his regular partner John Rowan is getting married a few days after the rally.
Defending Motorsport Ireland Forestry Rally champion Patrick O’Brien and his co-driving brother Stephen will make their FIA European Rally Championship debut in Portugal. The Skoda Fabia RC2 crew are contesting the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship this year but this extra event – on their favoured surface – is part of their development programme with the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy.