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Thu 18 Apr 2024

Rising star O’Donovan set for gravel rally debut

FIA World Rallycross Championship podium-finisher and Euro RX1 event-winner Patrick O’Donovan is set to add another string to his bow this weekend, as he makes his gravel rally debut on the Speyside Stages in Scotland (20 April).

O’Donovan is one of the rising stars of the international rallycross scene. In addition to his World RX rostrum appearance in Hong Kong last season and European Championship victory at Höljes, he is also a two-time British Champion, having become the youngest title-winner in the series’ history in 2022.


The British ace dipped his toe into the rallying waters at the end of last year, triumphing first time out in the popular Circuit Rally Championship at Cadwell Park behind the wheel of a Team RX Racing Hyundai i20 R5.


Co-driven by Jack Morton and run by Albatec Racing with Sam Clennell Motorsport, O’Donovan will take on a new challenge again this weekend as part of a highly competitive line-up of cars and crews in the 41-mile Speyside Stages. He conducted his maiden gravel rally test at Phil Price Rally School in Mid-Wales earlier this week.


The 20-year-old will confirm his international rallycross plans for the season ahead in the coming weeks.


“The circuit rallies we’ve done have been fun, but the gravel test was something else,” O’Donovan enthused. “The grip from gravel tyres – and we tried a few different options – is mad. The harder you push, the more rewarding it is.


“Of course I’m in a situation where I need to build up the speed – rallying is so dependent on experience and we are working hard to gain as much as possible, but I have a lot to learn. This will also be my first rally using proper pace notes. Jack and I have been doing some practice, but putting that into reality is going to be a different thing altogether.


“We made quite a few changes to the car at the test and hopefully we can continue that feeling into the weekend. Results-wise, I always want to do as well as possible, but we have to be realistic. I want to get as much mileage as we can to continue my learning, and the entry is strong too, so we’ll just see how we get on.”


“It was a real pleasure to do the gravel test alongside Patrick – it feels like he’s following the route of where I started my own career,” added Team RX Racing Team Principal, Ollie O’Donovan. “There is no pressure at all on Patrick from our side as he has a lot to learn. Driving the car is absolutely no problem for him, but he does need to gain more experience in rallying.


“He and Jack are forming a good relationship. Jack sat with me on Rally Barbados last year and on the test this week and he is very good, and I can see from the on-board footage how well he and Patrick are working together, so that can only help going into Patrick’s stage rally debut.”