Claudy’s Callum Devine insists that now is not the time to hit the panic button in the Irish Tarmac Championship title race.
Devine starts the Circuit of Ireland International Rally in Ballymena on Friday with a first win of the 2022 campaign uppermost in his thoughts.
He currently sits fifth on eight points having lost ground to Championship leader Josh Moffett — who tops the standings on 34 points courtesy of back-to-back wins — and second-placed Meirion Evans following retirement on last month’s West Cork Rally.
Devine (27) was denied a potential runner-up finish on the Clonakilty-based event when the gearbox in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 car failed on the road section to the final loop of stages.
While insisting he won’t adopt a win or bust mindset at round three on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, he says a maximum score would be the perfect way to get his title aspirations back on track.
“From a Championship point of view, it’s not ideal to have a DNF so early in the season but that’s rallying,” said Devine, who had a strong end to 2021 with successes on the Cork ‘20’ International, Donegal Harvest and Tour of the Sperrins rallies respectively.
“We have to take some positives from West Cork going to the Circuit of Ireland this week.
“We showed good pace to fight with the guys at the front and hopefully going forward we can just keep doing that and see come the end of the season what way things are.
“A win at the Circuit of Ireland would be a great way to bounce back from our West Cork result but we are under no illusions as to just how challenging that is going to be.
“Josh has had a great run over the last couple of rallies in the Hyundai and no doubt that is a great boost for him, but there will be plenty of others looking to have a crack at the win. It’s a challenge we are up for.”
Devine has been relying heavily on past recce notes and recent in-car video footage of the Glendun and Cairncastle stages as part of his pre-rally preparations having never tackled them in anger in an R5 car before.
“I’m really looking forward to tackling some of the classic stages — they are going to be special in an R5 car,” he said. “My Fiesta’s set-up worked very well in West Cork — it was our first dry rally in the car — so we’ve taken a big step forward in that area.
“The roads in the Glens of Antrim are a bit different, but I don’t think it will take much time to dial the car in to the roads up that way.”