Josh McErlean, winner of the 2019 Junior British Rally Championship title and Motorsport Ireland’s Billy Coleman Award, will make his European Rally Championship debut in a Hyundai i20 R5 on Rally Hungary on November 6-8.
The 21-year-old is following the path of several Motorsport Ireland proteges in making his ERC bow with the PCRS Rallysport team, and will partner Callum Devine who managed to grab a podium on his first ERC appearance on this event last year.
For the last three seasons McErlean has done much of his rallying in Great Britain using Rally4 cars, and the Irishman came third overall in the BRC last year against Rally2-driving opposition in addition to his Junior class title.
His plan to fight for the title in a Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy-supported i20 R5 was undone by the coronavirus pandemic canceling the BRC season, and he and co-driver Keaton Williams have done one Irish rally and Italy’s Rally di Alba since to learn how a Rally2 car handles on all-asphalt events like Hungary’s.
“I’ve been very lucky and fortunate enough to have some amazing experiences during my motorsport career and I’ve always looked at the ERC as one of the key goals of my pathway,” McErlean said.
“So when I got the call to say there was a possibility of heading to Hungary it was one of those ‘school kid in a sweet shop’ moments to be honest and I began preparations straight away.
“The fact that it’s now going to happen is pretty surreal but I’m very excited for it that’s for sure.”
A second Irish event, Ravens Rock Rally, was part of McErlean’s revised schedule until that was also canceled, and he’ll now be lining up in the ERC instead.
His appearance will continue a run of all-Irish line-ups at the PCRS following Pauric Duffy’s appearances at Rally di Roma and Rally Fafe Montelongo, and Cathan McCourt’s run on Rally Liepaja.
“It would be foolish to expect a top result but I`ll be grabbing this opportunity with both hands. I’m putting a lot of work into the pre-event preparation and I’ll be looking to drive smart and get the valuable experience under my belt,” added McErlean.
“I know how hard this rally can be so being the second driver in the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and PCRS Rallysport team alongside Callum [Devine] means I can learn from those around me and take in as much information as possible.”