Hyundai Customer Racing junior Callum Devine is searching for back-to-back European Rally Championship podiums on next week’s Rally di Roma, and doesn’t feel that’s an overly ambitious aim.
Devine and co-driver Brian Hoy vaulted up from fifth to third on the final stage of last year’s Rally Hungary as both Chris Ingram and Norbert Herczig punctured in the wild conditions. It was a remarkable achievement given it was the pair’s ERC debut and first rally behind the wheel of Hyundai’s i20 R5.
This season, Devine and Hoy have committed to the ERC full-time with the target of winning the ERC1 Junior title for drivers aged under 29. But getting accustomed to the Hyundai – after driving a Ford Fiesta R5 in the Irish Tarmac series last year – will be key to success.
Since Rally Hungary, Devine – who is a member of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, which Craig Breen occasionally lends mentoring support to – squeezed in a national rally in his native Ireland for some seat time and continued a remarkable run of seven podium finishes from his last eight starts.
This, coupled to the pace he showed against Breen in Ireland last year, is filling Devine with confidence ahead of Rally di Roma.
“I know we’re capable,” he told DirtFish. “The pace we were on last year in the Fiesta on Irish Tarmac, I know it’s not going to get any faster. It won’t. It can’t.
“Craig [Breen] has openly said that before about the pace from himself, Alastair [Fisher] and me were on at times was unreal. But I felt quite comfortable in the car, so if I can get gelled in with the Hyundai quick enough [the pace should come].”
Hyundai has been working hard to improve its i20 R5, especially for Ireland, and introduced a new damper earlier this year. Devine got a chance to try it and says the improvements give him the belief he can fight for top honors in Italy.
“We had a wee test before [the canceled] West Cork [Rally] with the new Irish damper and to be honest I was really, really impressed with it,” he said.
“It gave me a lot of confidence compared to Hungary so if I can just find that bit of confidence straightaway and have a good set of notes, [a podium] is not [overly] optimistic to us at all. We’ll be on the right tire with the Pirelli and we should have the right package, I can’t see why not if everything works.”