Belfast Telegraph

Eastwood at double as Devine shines in Hungary

 

Celebrations: Eastwood with team-mates Adams and Yoluc
Celebrations: Eastwood with team-mates Adams and Yoluc

By Sammy Hamill

Charlie Eastwood made it back-to-back wins in the World Endurance Championship, taking victory in Shanghai to lead the GTE-AM class in the series after three rounds.

The Belfast driver and team-mates Salih Yoluc and Jonny Adam dominated the four-hour race in their TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage, Eastwood bringing it home with a comfortable 16-second margin over their major Porsche rivals.

There was success, too, for Callum Devine, who produced an outstanding performance to battle his way to third in the final round of the European Rally Championship in Hungary, while new Irish national champion Josh Moffett won the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland.

Eastwood, driving the final stint at the Chinese Grand Prix circuit, took over in the lead and consistently lapped faster than his closest rivals, setting the team's fastest lap of 2.02.744 on lap 85. He even had time for a quick 'splash and dash' pit-stop and still cross the line clear of the Project 1 Porsche.

"To be able to take victory in Shanghai and make it back-to-back class wins is amazing," he said afterwards. "The car felt strong and we had very little tyre degradation, allowing the team to consistently push throughout the race. When I jumped in the car, I felt very comfortable and I was able to extend our lead."

The race was won by Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato in the Rebellion team's LMP1 Gibson, ending a run of seven victories by Toyota.

Eastwood, whose fellow Ulsterman Andrew Watson finished ninth for the Gulf Porsche team, and the TF Sport squad now move on to an eight-hour race in Bahrain on December 14.

In Hungary, Devine survived horrendous conditions to get on the podium, and ahead of new European champion Chris Ingram, on his debut in an R5 Hyundai i20.

The young Derry driver made the end-of-season trip to Hungary with co-driver Brian Hoy courtesy of the Motorsport Ireland Academy and Hyundai Racing. On roads that were awash after heavy rain, he overcame punctures and spins to make the finish in front of the Skoda of Ingram, who took the European title in a dramatic finish.

"Even though I'm from Ireland, I've never seen so much water in my life. The stages were like rivers, we were aqua-planning everywhere, and it was sloshing about inside the car," said Devine.

But he finished in style, setting the fastest time on the final stage to ease past Ingram.

"It was a crazy stage, the hardest I have ever done with the mud and the fog," he said.

Ingram knew a podium finish would be enough to take the title and he was third heading into the final stage in torrential conditions.

However, his Skoda suffered a flat tyre and he dropped two minutes, slipping behind Devine and giving rally leader Alexey Lukyanuk the chance to snatch the title away. But the Russian was forced to stop with a puncture of his own and the title was Ingram's.

Moffett, meanwhile, swept to a 40-second win over former British champion David Bogie in the Clark Rally. He was using the Scottish event to assess the latest R5 Ford Fiesta from the M-Sport organisation ahead of next season's Irish Tarmac Championship and, after a steady start on Friday night, powered into the lead on Saturday, pulling away for Ford Escort of Bogie and the R5 Fiesta of Dale Robertson.

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