Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Patrick O’Brien will contest all remaining rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship after securing support from Hankook Tires.
O’Brien and his co-driving brother Stephen are currently in Sweden where they are preparing for the Royal Rally of Scandinavia.
The Omagh, County Tyrone-based brothers will drive their own Skoda Fabia Rally 2 car on the Karlstad-based event which gets underway Friday morning.
This is their second FIA ERC rally this year after previously contesting the Fafe Rally in Portugal in March..
In the run-up to the event,, Hankook and the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy announced that O’Brien, the reigning Irish Forestry Rally Champion, will compete in this weekend’s rally and the three remaining rounds with support from the tyre giant.
Hankook Tires, the sole tyre supplier to the ERC Rally 4 Junior category (as contested by Galway’s Aoife Raftery) was keen to promote a young up-and-coming driver in the premiere Rally 2 class.
In the past, the Korean firm has worked with other Irish drivers including supporting Keith Cronin’s British Rally Championship title bid in 2021.
“I’m very happy to be working with a prestigious brand such as Hankook,” said O’Brien.
“They are really putting a lot of effort into their rally tyres, they are now even the control supplier for the juniors, and I look forward to working with them closely developing both ourselves and the tyres.”
Both the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and Hankook Tires have been working on the deal behind the scenes for a while
“I am really looking forward to working with Patrick, this is something we have been working on for some time,” said Hankook Tires on-event engineer John Archer
“This is a long-term project for us.”
The O'Brien brothers' next events will be Rally di Roma Capitale in Italy (July 29 - 30) and Barum Rally Zlín, Czech Republic (August 19 - 20) before the final round of the season in Hungary in October.
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Text By Sean Moriarty