Patrick O’Donovan has described his breakthrough international rallycross victory at Ferratum World RX of Rīga-Latvia last weekend (3-4 September) as the ‘best day of his life’, as the British teenager produced a sensational performance to soar to the top step of the podium in the FIA RX2e Championship.
One of the leading lights in the all-electric, single-spec series’ inaugural campaign last year, O’Donovan endured a more troubled start to his 2022 challenge – failing to reach the final in either of the first two rounds in Sweden and Norway – but in Latvia, he came out-of-the-blocks on flying form.
After ending Saturday sitting fourth overall – pushing championship leader Viktor Vranckx hard indeed in heat two – the 18-year-old got the better of Nils Andersson, local hero Roberts Vitols and Pablo Suárez following an absorbing scrap in tricky conditions in heat three in front of a huge Latvian crowd, before out-gunning Vranckx at the start of his progression race to assume a lead he would never surrender.
A textbook launch in the second semi-final then propelled him to another comfortable win, seeing O’Donovan line up in P2 on the grid for the all-important final. With the bit firmly between his teeth, the rising star out-muscled weekend-long pace-setter Isak Sjökvist through the opening complex of corners – eventually taking the lead around the outside of Turn Four – and thereafter kept the Swede, Vitols and Vranckx at bay throughout.
At the chequered flag, the top three were blanketed by barely half-a-second, as O’Donovan’s maiden RX2e triumph moved him up the championship table into fifth with two rounds remaining – at iconic Formula 1 venues Spa-Francorchamps and Catalunya next month.
“I was lost for words at the end of the race – absolutely over-the-moon,” confessed the 2021 Motorsport UK Academy Young Driver of the Year. “Even a few days after the event, I still don’t know how to describe the feeling of winning in Rīga. It was amazing – the best day of my life.
“The level in RX2e is so high, and we had to pull out all the stops to get to the front. I really enjoyed driving in the mixed conditions, and the racing is always respectful and fair. It was so satisfying to claim the win when other drivers in the series had already been to Rīga testing and racing, and I had never even been to Latvia before!
“We built our pace through the weekend, the joker tactics were perfect and it was such a tight battle in the final with Isak and Viktor. I got a good start and managed to get the switchback on Isak, which is definitely going down as one of my best career moves! Then I kept pushing every single lap. I had my spotter David Mansfield on the radio to me, telling me where the other cars were around me. It was certainly close – I could feel Isak pushing me over the line!
“I worked so hard since Norway to fight back; every evening after work I’ve been focussing on my fitness and preparation, and it paid off. There are so many people to thank and I won’t try to name them all, but mostly my mum and dad who give me such amazing support. Without them, none of this would have been possible.”