Five-time Irish Tarmac Rally Champion Eugene Donnelly and leading build and preparation experts Mellors Elliot Motorsport (MEM) will collaborate to offer the R2 Junior category winner of the 2020 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship a funded prize drive in a Proton Iriz R5.
MEM is responsible for the manufacture of the fully homologated Proton Iriz, the only example to be ratified by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l ‘Automobile) in both right- and left-hand drive, with asphalt ace Donnelly acquiring an example early last season.
Having worked together on development projects with the car which included a string of top- line names sampling the newest R5 on the market, both MEM and Donnelly will offer an outstanding prize to the leading R2 category crew at the end of the season.
The R2 junior champion will receive a funded prize drive behind the wheel of the Proton Iriz R5 with assistance from Donnelly at an asphalt event which is to be confirmed in the coming months. All aspects of the event will be covered, including fuel, tyres, a comprehensive test and entry fee.
The insurance premium will also be covered by another sponsor with the exception of the excess. Donnelly, who has been using the Proton in selected events over the past year is eager to support young talent, citing the Iriz R5 as the perfect car to develop in.
“The Irish Tarmac Championship has been at the heart of what I’ve been doing for the last god knows how many years and I know what it takes for these youngsters in the R2’s to get a good result,” he says, “they really have to drive them hard and it brings talent to the top”.
“Opportunities to progress are rare thanks to the financial gap and I want to give them a taste of what it’s like to drive a modern-day R5 car, so have worked with MEM to be able to offer them this fantastic prize. It should give them something special to work to during the season and could even provide them with a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Proton really is a superb car and I`m sure they will really settle in quickly”
Chris Mellors, Director of Mellors Elliot Motorsport (MEM) is delighted to support the initiative. He said: “Eugene has been working hard for us on the Irish lanes and getting a fantastic set up on the Proton to suit their unique characteristics this season so he is well placed to be able to offer all the advice a young driver would need. It’s a great prize that he has put together and here at MEM we have always backed young talent, you only have to go back to our World Rally Championship campaigns to see that it really can work. We know how talented the ITRC crews are so if the prize can highlight that, then it’s certainly worth supporting”.
TROA chairman Frank O’Mahony said: “I am delighted that Eugene Donnelly and MEM are backing this initiative. It is a fantastic opportunity for the winner of the R2 class to gain experience in an R5 car, not only to drive it competitively on a rally but get a comprehensive test under the tuition of Eugene”
Further details will be announced soon.