It was a busy weekend for two Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-drivers who competed in Italy and Germany over the weekend.
LORCAN MOORE’S DOUBLE ITALIAN JOB
Tipperary driver Casey Jay Coleman and his Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Lorcan Moore took part in last weekend’s Rally del Brunello - their first of two Italian events over consecutive weekends.
Run over roads made famous by the Rally San Remo when it formed the Italian round of the World Rally Championship the two-day ten-stage rally took place on Friday and Saturday in the Tuscany wine region ahead of its Saturday evening conclusion.
Driving a Peugeot 208 Rally4, the Irish crew gave a good account of themselves by finishing third in the Under-15 category and eighth out of 20 starters in class.
“The stages are class – they are actually 1980s WRC San Remo. Considering we didn't have much kilometres before the rally so had to use the first day as a test,” said Mayo man Moore.
“We finished third in the under 25s and eighth in the Rally4 class and 29th overall - there was 20 Rally4 cars so eighth out of 20 was good.”
The Irish team remain in Italy this week to prepare for Rally Schio, the final round of the Italian Rally Championship.
They will use the same Rallysport Evolution run Peugeot on the second rally.
“Busy week ahead,” added Moore, “We have recce on Thursday, shakedown Friday morning, night stage Friday night, and the bulk of the rally Saturday. Schio is a nice rally narrow flowing, have to neat up through villages, sections of hairpins, typical northern Italian stages.”
FIA RALLY STAR’S RONAN COMERFORD
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Ronan Comerford completed his FIA Rally Star programme of events on the German National Rally Championship-counting Lausitz Rally over the weekend.
This year, six drivers and co-drivers, including Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Comerford, took part in the series of pan-European national rallies and training days.
He now faces an anxious wait as the top four performing drivers and co-drivers will be selected at the end of the training season to continue their development and join the ranks of the 2024 FIA Junior World Rally Championship.
FIA Rally Star, the first global talent detection programme was launched by the FIA with the ultimate objective to detect, train and develop drivers to become the future stars of the World Rally Championship.
The FIA Rally Star drivers compete in identical four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Rally3s equipped with Pirelli tyres and run by M-Sport Poland; the same package used in the FIA Junior WRC Championship.
“So where now for 2024? Let’s wait and see. Potentially JWRC as this prize is on offer, and we will know very soon who will go forward,” he said. “The Rally Star programme has been a journey that has taken me Europe-wide, thrown in all the challenges of rallying, the friendship it has created and the enjoyment, it has truly been one I will always remember. This past six months have been a huge journey as in every event there was something to learn. It’s pretty incredible to be able to experience this, European rallying, and regulations – it sure keeps you sharp. A special thanks to those who made it happen.”
Comerford was paired with Oman’s Abdullah Al-Tawqi for 2023.
“I have very much enjoyed working and mentoring Abdullah both inside and outside the car. From ending our rally on the fourth stage in Rally San Marino after a small off to ending third Rally Star crew in Rally RACC, it’s nice to look back and see how far we came and the progress we have made with more and more seat time,” he added.
“Of course, there is still a lot more to learn but for now I think I have achieved a special part of my co-driving journey. The team within the programme is simply great. The dedication they put into their work to make everything work for us from tutors to mechanics to special on-event guests and many more.”
Following the Lausitz Rallye, the FIA Rally Star drivers will assemble in Geneva for a final assessment day on November 13. The four drivers who will contest the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024 will be revealed later in the week.
Four co-drivers will also be asked to go forward and not necessarily with the drivers they worked with during the 2023 season.
DONEGAL HARVEST RALLY
Rally Academy member and outgoing Billy Coleman Award winner Eamonn Kelly took his first Irish rally podium on his home event on Saturday.
Driving a Volkswagen Polo R5, Kelly and co-driver Conor Mohan finished an impressive second to an on-form Callum Devine in a similar machine on the Donegal Harvest Rally.
Text by Sean Moriarty / Pics by FIA Rally Star and Sean Mc Hugh