Junior BRC champion Kelly to make WRC2 debut in Finland
Reigning Motorsport UK Junior British Rally Champion Eamonn Kelly will contest the FIA World Rally Championship’s legendary Rally Finland this week (3-6 August) in the WRC2 category.
The 24-year-old from Donegal, Ireland, won the drive after claiming last year’s British championship title with co-driver Conor Mohan. They’ll now take to the notorious Finnish stages aboard a Rally2-specification Hyundai i20 N run by Estonian Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing squad RedGrey.
Kelly and Mohan are no stranger to the world championship, competing in Junior WRC this year in an M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3. They took their maiden victory in April’s Croatia round. The experience in Finland, however, will be an altogether different challenge.
Made up of 22 stages, covering a total distance of 320 kilometres over the three days, Kelly is thrilled with the prospect of taking on the Jyväskylä-based event’s challenging stages, featuring big jumps and fast gravel roads amongst forests and lakes.
“It is a boyhood dream to be able to go to one of the most iconic rallies in the world and compete, even more so in a Rally2 car,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky to compete in the Junior WRC this year but this one is pretty special. As well as being a dream it is also very beneficial for our progression, as Finland is as tough as it gets in terms of pace. All in all it’s the ultimate package!”
Kelly references his two years in Junior BRC as the best possible training ground for his new challenge on the world stage.
“The Junior BRC taught me loads in terms of getting stuck into battles and doing everything to come out on top. I was lucky to get two good years of competition and it definitely brought me up a level or two.”
The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver also credits the JBRC for winning the Billy Coleman Award. Set up in 2000, the award helps young Irish rally drivers step up from national to international rallying.
“Of course, winning the JBRC not only netted me this prize (the Hyundai WRC2 drive), but also a Billy Coleman nomination, which I was fortunate enough to win. That was the foundation for my JWRC season this year, so I must be very thankful for the JBRC in that sense.”
Motorsport UK British Rally Championship Manager Reece Tarren added: “The British Rally Championship has always been known for its breeding ground of future talent and to once again see a Junior British Rally Champion head onto the world stage is a testament to the series.
“When Eamonn was fighting with William (Creighton) in 2021 (for the JBRC title), it was evident that the potential was certainly there for the future, so it makes us proud to see him tackle Rally Finland, which goes well alongside his Junior WRC commitments.
“Our thanks go to Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, Reis Motorsport Insurance, Probite and DFDS for their support in enabling Eamonn to have this fantastic opportunity and we wish him the very best of luck.”
The Motorsport UK British Rally Championship was first run in 1958 and five of its champions have gone on to triumph in the World Rally Championship. The Junior BRC element is an integral pathway for young drivers under the age of 27 – a place where they can hone their skills on both gravel and asphalt as well as the all-important pre-event recce process. Click here for more information about the championship.