Stephen Wright, last year’s Motorsport Ireland Young Rally driver of Year, has secured the use of an R5 Ford Fiesta for the 2015 season. The talented Monaghan driver is stepping back up to four wheel drive after a season campaigning an R2 Peugeot 208. R5 cars are few and far between in Ireland at the moment but Stephen is confident he’s made the correct decision.
Speaking earlier he said; “The Billy Coleman Award provided us with a great opportunity in 2014. Although we ventured beyond our comfort zone it really stimulated my development and we soon began producing the results we had set out for, culminating in two of my best results to date at the end of last year. It was important to put this experience to good use and we gave our plans for 2015 careful consideration. The R5 category is growing at an impressive rate internationally and it was the obvious option for progression. The FIA have capped the cost of many components whilst encouraging high performance and the use of new technology. The cars provide a similar thrill to that of their WRC counterparts at a fraction of the cost. The British Rally Championship will switch to the R5 formula in 2016 and this just proves how appealing the cars are for drivers and spectators alike.”
With a variety of R5 options available the team have chosen the Ford Fiesta, developed by World Rally Championship front runners M-Sport. Stephen is no stranger to Ford or indeed M-Sport as a previous winner of the Irish Fiesta Sport Trophy in 2010. “The Ford Fiesta R5 has proven ultra-competitive from the outset and after past experience with M-Sport I was keen to get behind the wheel of another blue oval machine. Keith Rainey will prepare the car as usual and after collecting it last week I am beyond excited. Our programme at the moment is not set in stone – we aim to start the year in March at the West Cork Rally closely followed by the ERC counting Circuit of Ireland on Easter weekend. After that it is most likely we will stick to domestic events along with a trip to Belgium later in the year. We covered a lot of ground last year and it’s unlikely that will be repeated this season. If we can attract some additional sponsors we will certainly look at something more structured in Ireland, Belgium or even further afield. If there is anyone interested in supporting our campaign we are always on the lookout for new partners and you can contact us through our website.”
Before West Cork, Stephen aims to get some test miles under his belt to help adjust to his new mount. After a season away from four wheel drive, the first events of 2015 will be a learning exercise. Killarney man, Mikie Galvin will also join the team in West Cork as his long standing and successful partnership with his sister, Susanne comes to an end. As Stephen explains; “Susanne has decided to take a step back from her rallying commitments and I’ll certainly miss competing with her. It’s been great to experience so much with your sister and although we’re both competitive people we’ve always enjoyed it and I can’t recall one argument – in a rally car at least! Susanne has left large shoes to fill but Mikie will join us in West Cork and after getting on so well with him at the Cork 20 last year, I know he’s a capable replacement.”Read more →
It should have been all stations go this week for the Wright Rally Team as crewmembers prepared for the final round of the Belgian Rally Championship, Rally du Condroz. Unfortunately though, Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year, Stephen Wright, has had to withdraw his entry for the event due to the unavailability of a gearbox component for his Peugeot 208 R2. It’s a tough blow for the talented Monaghan driver but he remains philosophical on his season to date.
“We’re all gutted to be missing the last event of the Belgian Championship, Rallye du Condroz,” said Stephen earlier. “It’s one of the biggest events in the Belgian rally calendar and the atmosphere was sure to be electric with some really high profile entries. While it’s easy to be disappointed, it is more important to look back at the positives from this year and I think up until now, the positives have far outweighed the negatives.”
The positives have seen Wright compare his pace against the best young drivers in Europe and take a career best international finish in Ireland. Stephen is quick to thank those who made his 2014 campaign possible. “Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council along with my sponsors and team afforded us the opportunity to try something different and step out of our comfort zone. We produced top results throughout the season on unfamiliar events to lie 2nd in the 208 Rally Trophy heading into the final round. This was a great feeling, particularly after demonstrating class winning pace on the penultimate round. Coupled with that I think our podium finish on the Cork 20 Rally demonstrated just how much we have developed this season and driver development is what the Billy Coleman Award is all about.”
With his 2014 season now at a close, Stephen is looking forward to next season but not before paying tribute to the navigators and service crew who kept him on the straight and narrow all season. “My sister Susanne, Karl Atkinson and Mikie Galvin have done a superb job on the notes all year along with the guys at Rainey Rally Prep who ensured the car ran without fault all season. Now we will begin to concentrate on next year and I’m excited to see what the 2015 season will bring.”
Pic: Tony O’Brien (DYGM Photography)Read more →
It’s back to Belgium this weekend for the Wright Rally Team where current Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year Stephen Wright, will contest the ConXoin Tour of Flanders Rally. After a short outing on the recent Ulster Rally which was tragically halted, Stephen is hoping to resume his Belgian assault with renewed vigour in his rapid Peugeot 208 R2.
The Belgian Championship takes a summer break in July and August but Stephen has kept his eye in on European tarmac by competing in Luxembourg in the interim. “The last round I drove in Belgium was Ypres at the end of June so I was happy to get the seat time in Luxembourg before this weekend. European tarmac is a very challenging surface to drive on and the more experience I gain of it the better. Luxembourg also helped my points tally in the 208 Trophy which is one of my main goals this year” said Stephen speaking ahead of this weekend.
The experienced Karl Atkinson will partner Stephen in Flanders and the pair are looking forward to another successful weekend on the continent after Karl navigated Stephen to 5th in the 208 Trophy on the Rally de Wallonie back in April. However, the change of navigator doesn’t faze Stephen. “Switching co-drivers shouldn’t be a problem. Karl knows my style of pacenotes very well, brings a lot of knowledge to the table and we have a very good understanding. It will be important to settle in quickly as the championship is still up for grabs but we’ll have to produce a strong result this weekend.”
You can follow Stephen and Karl’s progress this weekend by following them on Twitter @StephenWr1ght and @karlatkinson116. Stephen is competing this season with the support of the Killyhevlin Hotel and Health Club, Spanwright Concrete Flooring, Lafarge Tarmac, Solmatix, Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council.Read more →
The Wright Rally Team head for home this weekend where current Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year Stephen Wright, and his co-driving sister Susanne will contest the Todds Leap Ulster Rally. The pair haven’t far to travel from their Monaghan base as the Ulster Rally will once again be based out of the County Fermanagh town of Enniskillen. The team will be keen to produce a strong result for local sponsor, The Killyhevlin Hotel situated on the picturesque shores of Lough Erne.
It’s a shorter distance than the duos last event where they travelled to the continent to tackle Rallye Luxembourg. Stephen and Susanne have been doing the majority of their rallying in Europe this year and Luxembourg provided them with one of their strongest results to date where the pair finished 13th overall and crucially, 2nd in the 208 Rally Trophy.
Speaking ahead of the weekend Stephen said; “It’s been a very rewarding year to date. Our pace on the Belgian and European rounds is continually increasing and although each rally has presented unfamiliar terrain, the results have been promising. It will be brilliant to compete again on a local rally and the Ulster Rally is a fantastic event with some really challenging stages. We left Luxembourg very confident in the car and our pacenotes, so I hope we can pick up where we left off and produce a good result for our local sponsors.”
You can follow Stephen and Susanne’s progress this weekend by following them on Twitter @StephenWr1ght and @SusanneWright15 . Stephen and Susanne are competing this season with the support of the Killyhevlin Hotel and Health Club, Spanwright Concrete Flooring, Lafarge Tarmac, Solmatix, Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council.Read more →
Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year Stephen Wright heads back to Belgium this weekend to take on the challenge of the Geko Ypres Rally in his Peugeot 208 R2. The rally is one of the most popular on the European continent and has attracted a stellar entry including over 40 cars in the R2 category alone and will provide a stern test for the talented County Monaghan driver and his co-driving sister Susanne.
Despite the strong entry, Stephen is hopeful the pair can perform well on the challenging Belgian roads where they have already picked up a string of solid results. Speaking before he set off for Ypres Stephen said; “This rally has provided the toughest field of competitors that Susanne and I will have ever competed against. Our focus will remain on the 208 Rally Trophy and accumulating more points in it. However, it would be nice to be in the mix for a podium among the Junior European Championship runners having narrowly missed out on a top 3 placing on the Circuit of Ireland at Easter.”
It has been almost 2 months since Stephen’s last foray to Belgium where he finished 5th among the 208 Rally Trophy runners on the Rallye de Wallonie but he has kept his eye in by tackling rallies on home soil and working on the set up of the pocket rocket Peugeot. “We’ve completed a couple of local events since Wallonie and the feeling is very good with the car now so I’m excited to get going in Ypres” said Stephen.
The action in Ypres starts on Friday afternoon when the crews leave the historic town to complete 7 challenging stages before the overnight halt. Saturday resumes with a 10.00am start with 13 stages (including the 27.56km Hollebeke stage) to complete before returning to the finish ramp at 10.00pm. You can find more information on the rally at www.ypresrally.com
As Young Rally Driver of the Year Stephen receives support from Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council and Stephen’s Belgian campaign is also backed by a number of local sponsors including the Killyhevlin Hotel and Lafarge Tarmac.Read more →