Tue 25 Jul 2023

O’Brien in it for the long term with Hankook-equipped ERC bid

Patrick O’Brien will continue to build his experience at international level by contesting the remaining rounds of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship.

The 26-year-old Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver has secured additional support from Hankook, one of the ERC’s four official tyre partners, for his campaign in a Škoda Fabia R5.

He previously contested Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto in March and was also in action on BAHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia earlier this month.

The Swedish gravel event was his first using Hankook tyres and served as a prelude to the ERC’s return to asphalt for the remaining three rounds of the season, starting with this week’s Rally di Roma Capitale (28 - 30 July).

“I’m very happy to be working with a prestigious brand such as Hankook,” said O’Brien, the 2022 Irish Forestry champion. “They are really putting a lot of effort into their rally tyres, they are the control supplier for Junior ERC. I look forward to working with them closely developing both ourselves and the tyres.”

Hankook Tires’ on-event engineer John Archer said: “I am really looking forward to working with Patrick, this is something we have been working on for some time. This is a long-term project for us.”

With his older brother Stephen co-driving, O’Brien scored his first ERC point by finishing 15th on BAHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia.

“It’s all learning and that’s what we’re here for,” O’Brien said during the opening leg in Karlstad, during which he ran first on the road. “It was difficult with no lines on the road over the crests, you don’t know where you’re going, but I enjoyed it, and I was having fun. I’d never experienced anything like that before and the braking was difficult, knowing where to brake was the biggest problem, but it was enjoyable.”

He continued: “My Tarmac experience is low, only the Galway International Rally with my Škoda, but I done quite a lot when I was younger and it’s a good opportunity. I can’t wait to go to Barum Czech Rally Zlín, in particular, because I’ve heard good things about that rally.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM