Marty McCormack has waited a long time for this moment; the world awaits the Northern Irishman. The World Rally Championship that is.
The Draperstown driver will realise a lifetime ambition next week, when he starts his first ever World Rally Championship programme. McCormack and his co-driver David Moynihan are contesting the WRC 2 series in a Ford Fiesta R5 backed by Korean tyre giant Hankook and innovative insurance expert TigerRisk.
McCormack’s talent is already widely recognised. Just four years after he started in the sport, he was crowned British Junior Rally Champion – a title he won for the second time in 2011. McCormack underlined his position at the top of British rallying by taking his first outright British Rally Championship event in in 2011.
That immediate success led to an invitation from 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg to drive for his team in Corsica in 2012. Closer to home, Jimmy McRae (a five-time British Champion and father to rally legend Colin) awarded Marty the prestigious Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy after a stunning drive on the 2012 Circuit of Ireland.
But now, Marty’s career is ready to take off on the international stage. He will contest six rounds of the World Rally Championship, starting with next week’s Rally of Portugal. His programme then takes him to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia for Rally d’Italia. The likeable and super-quick Northern Irishman is ready to make the most of this gilt-edged opportunity as the name Marty goes global.
The Ford Fiesta R5 is built by two-time world champions M-Sport and run by the Italian A-Style team. McCormack and Moynihan travel to Portugal this weekend in readiness for a ceremonial start in Estoril on Thursday (April 3). Over the ramp, tens of thousands of fans will cheer McCormack through the streets of Lisbon on a spectator-pleasing first stage.
From Friday (April 4) morning, this classic world championship counter shows its teeth as the crews move onto the notoriously tricky gravel roads inland from the Algarve. And that’s where the event remains until the finish at the Algarve Stadium on Sunday (April 6) afternoon.
McCormack will face the toughest competition of his life as he takes on a 20-strong WRC 2 field packed with high-calibre opposition hoping to shine in the World Rally Championship’s feeder series.
For McCormack, reaching the start of his first ever World Rally Championship programme is the realisation of a dream. But he knows the hard work lies ahead as he attempts to take his title-winning talent to rallying’s highest level.
Marty McCormack said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and very excited to be given this opportunity to compete in the WRC 2 category of the World Rally Championship. I’ve been working hard throughout my rallying career to reach this level and it’s still sinking in that I’ve finally made it. I now need to use this opportunity to gain experience. I have to thank both Hankook Tyres and TigerRisk Management for their support. And I’m really looking forward to working with the A-Style team this season.”
David Moynihan said: “To have the opportunity to compete alongside Marty in WRC 2 is amazing. Marty has proven to me over the years that he has the ability, motivation and dedication to progress to the top of the sport. He has never given up despite numerous setbacks and that he’s now secured a programme of this calibre – with a professional team in the most competitive car available – is proof of this. The first event will be difficult given that we will be driving the car for the first time on the shakedown. But Marty is a very adaptable driver with a very good understanding of the complex nature of these cars. That, coupled with the knowledge of the A-Style team and M-Sport engineers, will help us tremendously. From my part, I can only prepare as best as possible to ensure a smooth and efficient recce and then take every stage as it comes. I relish the challenge and feel that WRC 2 is stronger this year then ever. And it’s the ideal place to showcase our ability to the factory teams.”
Ceremonial start: Estoril, Thursday April 3 (1500)
Stages: 16 Competitive distance: 339 km (210 miles)
Total distance: 1404 km (872 miles)
Finish: Algarve Stadium Sunday April 6 (1225)
Event website: www.rallydeportugal.pt