Belfast Telegraph

Rising star Devine makes big move

 

By Sammy Hamill

British Junior champion Callum Devine lined up for the start of Wales Rally GB in Deeside last night in an R5 Ford Fiesta instead of his title-winning R2 Opel Adam.

A late change of heart saw the young Claudy driver opt to run the Fiesta, recently brought back from China, on his World Championship debut even though he’s had little opportunity to test the car or experience it on gravel stages.

But he made an encouraging start with fifth fastest WRC2 time during yesterday’s shakedown at Clocaenog.

But Devine insists he has no high expectations. “I just want to get experience of the R5 and of four-wheel-drive,” he said. “I usually go into a rally feeling optimistic, but this time I just want to get round and learn the car.”

Making his WRC debut too this weekend is Gareth Deazley who was given a free entry as Northern Ireland’s new Junior champion. But while the entry fee was paid for, the Omagh engineer still faced a big bill to get on the start ramp and he came up with an innovative idea to find the funds — the Lotto.

He offered the chance to co-drive for him on a future event based on the bonus ball in the Lotto at £40 a time and many weighed in including a number of his fellow competitors.

The money was raised and Deazley, along with co-driver James Duffin, lined up in Deeside last night in a hired Honda Civic, his own car back home being prepared for the final round of the NI Championship, the Sunset Stages, next Saturday.

Meanwhile Kris Meeke’s rally weekend didn’t begin as well as he would have hoped and he could only record 12th fastest time on the shakedown stage. Craig Breen was ninth quickest in his sister Citroen C3 as Welsh hero Elfyn Evans set the best time in his DMACK Ford Fiesta.

Unhappy with the set-up of his car, Rally Catalunya winner Meeke made just two runs through the Clocaenog stage.

“I wasn’t able to prepare as I would have liked,” he explained.

“The set-up for the shakedown wasn’t ideal for the road conditions and so I had to go back to service to make changes.

“But by the time we got back out to the stage, the road conditions had changed again and I couldn’t improve my time.”

Evans was quickest ahead of Hyundai’s Dani Sordo and Ford’s Ott Tanak.

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