MH Motorsport takes Pirelli Rally Junior podium
MH Motorsport's Callum Devine and Kevin Moriarty took second BRC Junior at the Pirelli International Rally. Image credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography - Click to download high resolution version -
MH Motorsport misses out on Pirelli Rally Junior victory by less than a second. After taking victory on the opening round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) Junior category, Hampshire based preparation firm MH Motorsport narrowly missed out on making it two it a row at last weekend’s Pirelli International Rally. In a nail-biting final stage, Northern Ireland’s Callum Devine succumbed to severely worn out tyres in his MH Motorsport Ford Fiesta R2T to be pipped by just 0.4second on the final stage to take second spot in the hotly contested series.
Team mate Oscar Solberg overcame early event brake problems to take fourth in the sister MH Motorsport Fiesta. Pre-event favorite Solberg and co-driver Patrick Barth had confessed to being “surprised” to be in the lead of the Junior BRC after the opener in March, although perhaps it was just the duo that were shocked by the outcome.
Son of World Rally Championship ace Henning was head and shoulders above the competition on the Border Counties and was looking forward to strengthening his position at the top of the rankings in Carlisle.
But it would be Callum Devine and Keith Moriarty who would head the MH Motorsport charge after the opening two stages of the event. Based in the notorious Kielder forest to the North East of Carlisle, the abrasive surface would take its toll on many crews during the two day event and Solberg was one.
Brake problems from the very first stage left him languishing down in sixth. Devine however, had no such issues and recorded some impressive stage times in only his second gravel event in the car to head into the mid-point remote tyre zone in third.
That third would become first by the final stage of the opening leg with a blistering time over the last test of the day. “It’s been a challenging day I have to say” mused Devine. “Getting used to the car and the huge speeds we are carrying is pretty immense, but we will need to keep that up if we are to be in this position tomorrow”.
Devine showed no sign of breaking that promise during the opening loop of two Sunday stages with a lead of over eight seconds from his nearest rival. The four tests which made up Saturdays leg would be repeated again on Sunday to total 100 miles of competitive driving, but it would be the final nine miles which would decide the rally for Devine. Going into the stage, his lead had been slashed to just three seconds and by the time he emerged, he was defeated by the smallest or margins to finish second in the Junior rankings. “I’m gutted to have lost like that” said Devine at the finish. “Just look at those tyres, they are shot. I really couldn’t do any more than I did and hey’ it’s rallying; you win some, you lose some. We have some good points on the board now though which is great and it proves we have the pace to be at the front”.
Oscar Solberg and Patrik Barth in action. Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography. Click to download high res version.
Points are exactly what Solberg came for and he would look to grab as many as possible thanks to Saturday’s issues. After fixing the brake issue during the evening, normal service was resumed for the Norwegian, setting some blistering times to jump from sixth to fourth over the closing stages of the event. Perhaps more frustrating for the youngster was the knowledge that he would have undoubtedly been the second MH Motorsport team mate on the podium had it not been for the opening leg setback.
“Ah it’s been a disappointing rally of course but I’m really pleased we are here and have scored more points for the championship” he said. “There is still a long way to go”. Devine provisionally now moves into third spot in the Junior BRC with Solberg in second. The third round of the series takes place at the end of May in Dumfries with the RSAC Scottish Rally.