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Tue 14 Mar 2023

O’Donovan proves Proton pace with Irish Iriz victory

FIA RX2e Championship race-winner Patrick O’Donovan made history with a breakthrough triumph for the world’s first Proton Iriz RX Supercar at Mondello Park earlier this month, as the rising British star aims to firm up his 2023 programme ‘in the coming weeks’.

FIA RX2e Championship race-winner Patrick O’Donovan made history with a breakthrough triumph for the world’s first Proton Iriz RX Supercar at Mondello Park earlier this month, as the rising British star aims to firm up his 2023 programme ‘in the coming weeks’.

Behind the wheel of the same Team RX Racing car that his father Ollie O’Donovan – a podium-finisher on the Euro RX scene – will campaign in domestic and international events this year, the talented teenager dominated the Irish Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser to win twice on-the-road, albeit losing one of those victories following a stewards intervention.

Unbeatable on the opening day of action in a high-calibre Supercar field, O’Donovan looked to have scooped the spoils, but an erroneous last lap joker – not used in Irish Championship Super Final races – resulted in a post-race penalty that relegated him to second.

Undeterred, the reigning British Rallycross Champion made amends the following day with a late pass to grab glory – underscoring the progress that has been made with the Proton since its troubled first season in 2022, when O’Donovan Snr raced the car in Euro RX1 at both Nyirád and Höljes.

“What a weekend!” O’Donovan enthused. “We had a huge battle in the final on Sunday, and it was great to get the win for the whole team. Everyone has worked very hard in the last few weeks to move this project forward, and I’ve been so happy to do my best to improve the car for my father to race this year.

“We dominated on Saturday – we even took the over four-second joker lap when nobody else did and still won on-track – but we have to respect the officials’ decision, and that just made me even hungrier to win for the team on Sunday.

“The car has taken steps forward, and while there’s still more work to do, it’s in a much better place now. I feel the weekend also helped me to get sharp for the season ahead, along with driving another car that’s pretty different to what I’m used to. Hopefully we’ll be ready to announce our 2023 plans in the coming weeks.”

While O’Donovan Jnr was ramping up his pre-season preparations, his father was absent at Mondello due to a clashing Circuit Rally Championship commitment in an Albatec Racing Hyundai i20 R5, but the 2007 British Rallycross Champion professed himself pleased with the Iriz’s ongoing development in race situations.

“For Patrick and the rest of the team, it was a very strong weekend,” he acknowledged. “I’m always pleased when he does well, but that we seem to have turned a bit of a corner with the Proton as well is a good step in the right direction. I just need to get him out of the driver’s seat now to see how the car feels for myself!”