Brian Hoy navigated Callum Devine to a podium finish on last weekend’s Rally Hungary. The pair posted the quickest stage time on the final test of the rally to leapfrog from fifth to third place on the final round of the European Rally Championship, and Brian is hoping their performance in the Hyundai will boost their chances of securing a deal to contest the full European Championship in 2020.

“We were over the moon,” admitted Enniskillen co-driver. “That is the first Hyundai R5 that has been on the podium in Europe so we are moving in the right direction. We discussed a target before we started and Callum said he thought he would be in the top five, but he wanted to be in the mix for stage times. It has definitely improved our chances of getting back to the European Championship. The target for next year is to do the full eight rounds of the ERC and hopefully with Hyundai supporting us.”

Callum and Brian had spent the season contesting the Irish Tarmac Championship where they finished third overall, but they managed to secure a deal to contest the Hungarian Rally behind the wheel of an unfamiliar Hyundai R5. It was a challenge that presented very different problems to those they experienced on the Irish tarmac.

“Conditions were unbelievable,” said Brian. “I would say only 30 per cent was tar, and the rest was mud and forest trails. It was so slippery. There was pure mud when you came around a corner from boys cutting before you, and some of the stages ran in reverse and there were cuts from the day before. It was a challenge, especially with a new car and a new team around us.”

Despite the treacherous roads the pair had quickly established themselves in the top five, but midway through the first day they suffered a setback that dropped them down the leader board.

“We were in around the top three or four times all day, and then we got a double puncture,” explained Brian. “We clipped two stones. We got a puncture on the passenger side and stopped in the stage to change it, and when we got to the end we had another puncture on the driver’s side. Luckily we had two spares but that cost us. You could say that we could have won the rally if we hadn’t lost two minutes but on the other hand everyone had punctures and their troubles.”

The pair hauled themselves back into fifth spot with one stage remaining but any chance of podium finish seemed to be out of reach before they produced a stunning final stage time over one minute faster than anyone.

“The last stage was something else,” said Brian. “It was raining and the fog came down, and the mud was unbelievable. We turned off all boost and all anti lag just to get through it and that probably stood to us because the less power you had the better, because you were just spinning anyway. We had a really clean run. We couldn’t believe it when we got to the end. Nearly everybody else had problems to be fair but it was a testament to Callum that he was able to hold it all together when it really mattered.”

The event was a memorable experience for the pair, and a welcome return to the world stage after experiencing several rounds of the World Rally Championship in 2018.

“Those WRC rallies we did last year really helped us and what was expected of us. The Hyundai was a strong car and Callum was happy with the gear change, the handling, the power and the tyres. It was a good package they put together and we would like to thank Motorsport Ireland, Pirelli Tyres, Philip Case Rally Sport and Hyundai Customer Racing.”