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Fast roads of Sweden await Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Armstrong and Raftery

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Jon Armstrong will count on previous Rally2 experience when he starts this weekend’s  BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia.

Armstrong and his Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Eoin Treacy have been turning heads in the FIA European Rally Championship in what is their first full season in an M-Sport run Ford Fiesta Rally2.

So far this year they have recorded two top-ten results in Hungary and the Canaries and sit seventh in the championship standings.

The Royal Rally of Scandinavia is the third round of the championship but the first of the season where the Fermanagh-based driver can call on previous Rally2 FIA European Rally Championship knowledge.

Last year Armstrong drove a Ford Fiesta Rally2 for the MRF Tyres Dealer Team in the Karlstad-based event in what was his maiden outing in a top-flight car in a FIA European Rally Championship event.

Up to that point in 2023 he had impressed many by dominating all four rounds of the ERC Rally3 category.

His 11th-place finish in Sweden and his domination of the remainder of the Rally3 category in the championship last year ultimately led to the M-Sport drive for 2024.

He hopes to put that Royal Rally of Scandinavia experience to good use on the fast and undulating roads of central Sweden this weekend.

“The experience from last year is definitely beneficial,” he said. “You know how the car reacts on this kind of road and you know what direction to go with set-up. For me there is still a lot to improve on, we have learned a lot on the first two events of the year, and we are going to build on the foundation of what we have already laid. Having been to the rally before gives you a lot more confidence.”

Galway-based Aoife Raftery will also represent the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy this weekend as the Swedish event doubles as round three of the Junior FIA European Rally Championship.

The first and so far, only female driver to be selected by the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy,  put in strong performances in Hungary and the Canary Islands already this season.

Driving a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Peugeot 208 Rally4  she and co-driver Hannah McKillop arrive in Sweden in third place in the junior championship standings.

She said: “This is my second time at this rally and five of the stages are the same as last year. But my pacenotes have come on so much in the last year it is almost like we will be starting from scratch. Myself and Hannah spent a lot of time in recent weeks going over last year’s in-car and other footage. Looking forward to  the fast roads of Sweden again, it is going to be a busy week with a test on Tuesday, recce Wednesday and Thursday and the rally starts Thursday night.”


The Royal Rally of Scandinavia will take place in the Värmland and Karlstad areas of central Sweden from June 13-15. The hub of the rally is the service park and HQ in Karlstad, the long-time home of the WRC Rally Sweden.

The rally kicks off on Thursday with shakedown at Bäck-Hult. Free Practice and a Qualifying Stage are also held here. The evening concludes in Välsviken, just outside central Karlstad, where the ceremonial start will be held, and the rally starts with a spectator-friendly stage which runs right by a BAUHAUS store.

Friday’s stages are largely similar to last year and includes two runs over the classic Colin’s Crest stage made famous by WRC Rally Sweden. Saturday is based east of Karlstad and the rally finishes at the service park with the official closing ceremony.


Rally Academy founder and patron John Coyne celebrated his 74th birthday by returning to American National Rally Championship action at the Southern Ohio Rally at the weekend.

He described the event as “a rally of mixed fortunes.”

Driving a PCRS-prepared Hyundai i20 Rally2, Coyne, gave Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Eoin Treacy his second taste of Stateside rallying at the latest round of the American Rally Association national championship at the weekend.

Photo Credit: Kevin Allen

Sixth fastest on Thursday night’s tarmac super special, they moved up to third overall on the first gravel stage Friday morning. A driver error on stage five saw them leave the road backwards and roll some twenty feet down an embankment.

Fortunately, the car landed on its wheels with only minor cosmetic damage to the car. The crew were unhurt but the bank was too steep to drive out so they had to wait for winch recovery. They drove back to service and the PCRS Rallysport team checked over the car to prepare to re-start on Saturday morning under SuperRally rules.

Two fourth- and a fifth-fastest times over the first three stages showed that the crew and car were fully back on the pace despite Friday’s mishap.

Unfortunately, on the next loop’s first two stages, they suffered a total loss of boost pressure which saw them well off the pace. Following successful field repairs, they drove conservatively on the next two stages to reach service.

With a new intercooler fitted by the PCRS Rallysport crew for the final Power Stage, they punched in a solid third-fastest time to finish the weekend on a strong note.

Sixteenth overall and third in the RC2 class, combined with Power Stage points sees John retaining leadership in the RC2 championship lead and fourth place in the overall championship.

“Once again Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy codriver Eoin Treacy did an outstanding job in the car and used his mechanical skills to keep us in the rally on Saturday’s second loop,” said John.

Eoin now heads directly to Sweden to join Jon Armstrong in the M-Sport Fiesta Rally2 for the next round of the FIA ERC Championship, the Bauhaus Royal Scandinavian Rally.

John has a week at home before he heads to Poland to support Academy team Josh McErlean and James Fulton in their next round of the FIA WRC Championship in the TokSport WRT / Škoda Motorsport Fabia RS Rally2.


Two Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy crews contested the Garda Siochána Motor Club-organised Baltinglass Rally on Sunday.

The rally marked the return of Billy Coleman Award winner Jack Brennan and co-driver John McGrath to Irish rallying after a few events abroad in the Spring.

Driving a Peugeot 208 Rally4 they won Class 2 for Rally4 cars despite intercom issues and getting caught in the rain while driving on dry-weather tyres earlier in the day.

“It was a tricky day for us. It was a day of getting back in the seat again,” he said.

“Tyre choice was difficult as the rain was forecast but it did not fall until the last stage. It was an enjoyable day,  a couple of mishaps here and there, we were caught on slicks in the rain and had intercom issues. All is all it was a  good day, lots learned and more experienced gained.”

Cian Caldwell and Liam Egan were the early pacesetters in the class They used the event as a pre-Donegal International Rally test but retired with mechanical issues on the second stage.  

The Peugeot 208 Rally4 crew are concentrating on the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup and Donegal forms round four of the eight-round series.

Text by Sean Moriarty / Pics by MIRallyAcademy



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