Michael Orr biography
DRIVER: Michael Orr RESIDES: Bangor, Northern Ireland
CAR: Ford Focus RS WRC BIRTHDATE: 01/17/74
TEAM: BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally SPOUSE: Angie
First rally: 1992
First world rally: 1993 RAC Rally
World rallies started: 81
Michael Orr brings more than 19 years' experience to his role as co-driver to Khalid Al Qassimi.
Last year Orr rejoined Al Qassimi in the BP Ford Abu Dhabi line-up, the pair contesting 10 WRC rounds in a Focus RS WRC.
Orr was a 15-year-old schoolboy when he first navigated on a small road rally in his native Northern Ireland in 1989. He quickly developed a liking for the sport and the following year competed in the Northern Ireland Road Rally Championship.
His move to stage rallying came in ‘92 when he joined forces with Drew Wylie. The pair spent two seasons competing in the historic category of the Irish Tarmac Championship in a Hillman Imp, winning their class and finishing fourth overall on their debut on the legendary Circuit of Ireland. Orr made his WRC debut on the RAC Rally in Britain in ‘93, co-driving for Andrew Wheatley in a Skoda Favorit. Wheatley later became a work colleague in the co-ordination department at M-Sport and is still a key member of the team.
Orr also tackled the national championship in Ireland in ‘93 and ‘94 in a Ford Sierra Cosworth with Willie John Dolan. He then took time out of co-driving to join M-Sport's co-ordination department, where he worked alongside current co-ordination manager John Millington and Phil Mills, co-driver to Petter Solberg.
It provided valuable behind the scenes experience which he put to further use when he co-ordinated Ukrainian driver Vasyl Rostotsky in ‘99. But the lure of co-driving was too strong and Orr returned to the cockpit to partner Rostotsky to the Ukrainian national title the same year.
Orr joined forces with Niall McShea for the British Rally Championship the following season, before moving up to the Junior World Rally Championship in 2001 and ‘02, finishing third in their first year in a Ford Puma and a Citroen Saxo. In ‘03 Orr contested the SCCA Pro Rally Championship in the United States in a works open class Subaru alongside Ramana Lagemann.
In ‘04 he rejoined McShea for four events in the Production Car World Championship, guiding his fellow countryman to the title on the final round in Australia. He also partnered Al Qassimi for the first time in the Middle East Rally Championship and the pair claimed victory in Bahrain and Syria en route to the title.
Orr stepped up to a full WRC programme in ‘05 in a Focus RS World Rally Car alongside Antony Warmbold, their best results being seventh in Mexico, Italy and Spain. He also partnered Matthew Wilson to victory on the inaugural Rally Ireland, an outing that led to a two-year partnership in the WRC in ‘06 and ‘07. Their best result was fourth in Japan in ‘07.