A quartet of four Proton Iriz R5’s will tackle this weekend’s Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally with Ollie Mellors leading the way at the second round of the British Rally Championship in Ireland (14/15 March).
After taking the Iriz to its first-ever Irish podium at the Birr Stages Rally a fortnight ago, Mellors and co-driver Max Freeman will be aiming for a solid BRC result, adding to Mellors’ fourth place at the series opener in Wales as the Proton brand returned to the BRC for the first time since 2016.
The rapid Derbyshire pilot will be flanked by five-time Irish Tarmac Rally Champion Eugene Donnelly, rising youngster James Williams and double BRC Ladies Champion Nabila Tejpar, all driving an Iriz R5, taking the total to four on the event.
Mellors heads the Proton pack but is seeded outside of the top ten, such is the strength of the entry on the popular event which sees over 180 crews contest the gruelling closed-road event. The British Championship joins regulars from the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in Clonakilty as almost 30 R5’s tackle the arduous two-day rally.
Competing on asphalt for the first time in four years at the Birr Stages, Mellors overcame several hold-ups to set a string of top three times in the Thornbridge Brewery, Reliable Vehicle Logistics and Michelin backed Iriz R5 to take third but is realistic about his chances this weekend.
West Cork [Rally] will really be night and day from Birr [Rally] and we really can’t expect a repeat performance this weekend,” says Mellors who has also attracted backing from leading utility contractor O’Connor Utilities Limited for the event.
“I`m pleased with how the car performed on the Irish lanes and it was the perfect shakedown and precursor to Cork, it enabled us to find a good set up and confidence in the car so it was very important to go and do that. It was the first time I’d driven on Tarmac in four years and it would have been foolish to head to West Cork if I hadn’t done that. But with the strength of the entry this weekend, we just have to focus on British Championship points and do our own thing. It’s a long season ahead and points are valuable, even at this stage of the championship”.
With four Iriz R5’s joining the fray in Ireland, Mellors Elliot Motorsport Managing Director Chris Mellors is delighted to see a buoyant number out in West Cork.
“It will be a nice moment for the team to see four Iriz R5’s parked up together. We know the car is more than capable on a sealed surface but it’s a big weekend and as a team, we need to think about the Championship from Ollie’s [Mellors] point of view. It’s a very long event, one of the longest in the series so it will be a good test for the car and our drivers of course”.
The West Cork Rally takes crews over 14 stages and 220 kilometres of competitive driving spread across Saturday and Sunday.
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