History-making John Coyne finishes World Rally Championship event at 73


Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy founder and patron John Coyne made history at the weekend by becoming the oldest Irish rally driver to enter a round of the World Rally Championship.

The 73-year-old made his Rally Finland debut over the weekend at the wheel of a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car.

Coyne started rallying when he was 18 in the family run-around, a Volkswagen Beetle. With his parents’ approval, he was allowed to compete in the car from Friday evening under the condition that it would return, parked on the driveway, ready for family use, come 8 am on Monday morning.

After 55 years of competition and almost 800 events – including winning the 1982 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship outright – last weekend he made his second WRC appearance of the year having already finished 24th overall in Mexico in March.

Coyne, who celebrated his birthday in June, is the oldest Motorsport Ireland-licenced driver to compete at World Rally Championship level.


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However, co-driver MJ Morrisey holds the Irish record, the Waterford man will be 75 when he starts the Acropolis Rally in Greece next month.

As well as ticking off another bucket list achievement, Coyne’s main focus for entering Rally Finland, the ninth round of the World Rally Championship, was to give members of the Rally Academy a chance to learn about competing at the highest level.

Coyne employed Academy member Eoin Treacy as his co-driver for one of the most iconic events on the calendar.

“I am delighted to tick off another bucket list item by finishing WRC Secto Rally Finland 2023 38th overall and 23rd RC2 at age 73,” said Coyne.

“It is some experience trusting your notes over Finland’s many crests, jumps and turns while carrying big speed on some of the world championship’s highest speed stages.

“A great learning challenge for Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Eoin Treacy who did an excellent job all weekend on his second ever world championship rally.

“Thanks to the PCRS crew for a Hyundai i20N Rally2 which ran flawlessly throughout.

“Finally a word of thanks to the many many Irish rally fans who made the trip to cheer us on. The sea of Irish flags on the stages was a huge motivation,”

Treacy previously partnered with Coyne in Mexico and as part of his development programme within the Academy, he was given a second opportunity in Finland at the weekend.

“It was a great event, everything went well,” said the Cork-based co-driver.

“Fantastic stages with a great atmosphere. Brilliant Irish support throughout the weekend was great to see. Great experience for me to get thanks to the Academy and John. Great drive by John all weekend. The car ran perfect over the weekend, a top job by PCRS.”

Words by Sean Moriarty Kerry Motorsport News

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