Fri 28 Jun 2024

O’Donovan eager to exploit rallying-honed skills in Euro RX1 opener

Patrick O’Donovan is hopeful that his pre-season rally outings will give him a vital edge over his adversaries when the FIA European Rallycross Championship races into life at Höljes in Sweden next weekend (6-7 July).

O’Donovan will be returning to the scene of his breakthrough Euro RX1 triumph 12 months ago, and having finished third in the overall standings in 2023, he enters the forthcoming campaign as one of the title favourites behind the wheel of his Team RX Racing-run Peugeot 208 WRX.


In preparation for the challenge that lies ahead, the rising British star has been contesting a number of rallies, making a victorious debut alongside co-driver Jack Morton on the NHMC Cadwell Park Stages late last year and recently reaching the rostrum against far more seasoned competitors on the Kielder Forest Rally.


O’Donovan hopes the experience he has gained along the way will pay dividends when the battle for Euro RX glory begins in just over a week’s time.


“I’ve done a lot of driving over the past couple of months, and even if it mostly hasn’t been in the Peugeot, it’s all helpful,” acknowledged the two-time British Rallycross Champion and FIA World Rallycross Championship podium-finisher. “When I got back into the 208 a few weeks ago, it felt Iike I’d never left.


“Rallying has certainly kept me sharp over the winter and has helped me to develop new skills. When you’re on the stages, there is so much going on, and the commitment you have and the trust you need to place in the pace notes makes it a mad experience!


“I’ve had to put a lot more faith in the car and in my own ability, especially in blind corners, which is something I’ve struggled with in the past. One example of that would be at the bottom of the hill at Höljes, where you can’t see through the corner; it’s tricky to 100 per cent commit, but that’s less of an issue when you’re used to committing to driving through blind corners, over crests at 100mph with trees only a couple of feet from the car!


“I think rallying has taught me to be very aware of not overdriving, too – to be as neat and tidy as possible all the time. That certainly transfers when you get back into the rallycross car, when you have so much power that it’s hard to stay neat. I’m excited to get the Euro RX season finally started at Höljes, and my goal is always the same. I never climb into a racing car without wanting to win. That’s why we do this, isn’t it!”


The 20-year-old’s father, 2007 British Rallycross Champion Ollie O’Donovan, has similarly been busy out on the stages of late. Having cut his teeth in rallying prior to turning his focus to rallycross, he recently contested his first gravel rally in 17 years, winding up ninth amongst the 55 finishers on Kielder.


“I’ve been very impressed with how Patrick has got on in the small amount of rallying he has done so far,” he commented. “Hopefully like it did with me over the last couple of years, that experience and seat time will help him in our rallycross season as well.”

Rallying Images: Andrew Scott

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