Niall McShea has been given the go-ahead to push to his limits when he makes his Intercontinental Challenge debut for the Proton team on this weekend’s Barum Rally Zlin in the Czech Republic.
Fermanagh’s former world production champion has been drafted in to the MEM Proton team along with Cork’s British champion Keith Cronin for the Czech round of the IRC series which begins on Friday.
They replace Australian Chris Atkinson and Scot Alister McRae as Proton continue their development programme ahead of a full IRC campaign next season. And MEM boss Chris Mellors wants McShea to go flat-out while Cronin, who finished second on Rally NI last weekend, will be asked to take a more measured approach on his first event in the Super 2000 Proton Satria.
“We’d like Niall to have a bit of a go and see where we can get the car,” said Mellors. “I would think we should be looking at a top-10 result without asking for too many heroics.”
McShea impressed for Proton when he tackled Rally Ireland in a Satria in January of last year when ran as high as third place initially and was ahead of world champion Sebastien Loeb for a time.
“Knowing how hard the MEM team have been working on the car since last year and having done some development work for them, I’m really looking forward to driving on an event like the Barum Rally,” said McShea.
“I haven’t done the rally before and, obviously, the competition in the IRC is incredibly tough, the drivers — people like Kris Meeke — and the cars are among the best around.”