Jul 31, 2021
- Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy member Josh McErlean prepares for FIA World Rally Championship outing
- The Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver will head to Belgium for the Renties Ypres Rally
- McErlean showed encouraging pace at last weekend’s FIA European Rally Championship round in Italy; Rally di Roma Capitale
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy ace Josh McErlean believes next month’s Renties Ypres Rally (13-15 August) is the best chance of securing a top FIA World Rally Championship result in 2021 as he is set to tackle the Belgian event in a Hyundai i20 R5.
The Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing driver will tackle his second WRC qualifier of the year and will head to the event fresh from an outing in the FIA European Rally Championship last weekend in Italy; Rally di Roma Capitale (23 -25 July).
The 21-year-old from Kilrea, Co. Derry and co-driver Keaton Williams showed an impressive pace on the tough Italian roads which are famed for suiting the local drivers and was running inside the top-twenty before getting caught out on a tricky section of the final loop of the event, forcing the Hyundai off the road.
But McErlean is quick to take the positives away from his performance in Italy.
“There is no hiding it was a tough event for us and of course ending the rally off the road is really disappointing, but we have plenty to focus on as we continue to rack up our experience of events like this and the unique European roads,” said McErlean.
“We encountered a few issues but I`m proud of how we overcame them, and our speed really did progress throughout the rally. That’s a key metric for me and it’s well known that mastering the Italian tarmac is a fine art. It was my mistake that put us out, but overall it’s been a great start to the year and only a minor blip when I look towards the future. Keaton, the PCRS Rallysport team and my backers have been so supportive and have been superb all weekend. Now we re-set and go again”.
Proving his pace on both surfaces, McErlean has enjoyed an impressive run of form this season, with a sensational third overall at the Olympus Rally in America and Rally di Alba in Italy. He also scooped fifth in the WRC3 category of the gruelling of Rally de Portugal which also marked his last outing in the WRC in May.
And McErlean won’t have long to wait to return to the WRC tour as the Ypres Rally, the next event in his busy schedule takes place in just a few weeks and the progressive youngster is eager to make a return to the country which he has visited twice before as part of his Junior British Rally Championship campaign.
The Belgium event will see a change of co-driver, as James Fulton steps into the seat as Williams is unavailable due to other commitments.
“It’s a really quick turnaround and I`m super excited to be heading back to Belgium to compete. Being in the WRC again is fantastic and I’m eager to build the relationship with James in the car”.
“It’s nice to finally have some previous experience of the roads we will be competing on and that really does boost the confidence to push on. It’s the first time it has been a WRC round as well, so I think there is a lot of unknowns about the event but to be part of the atmosphere and experience is a true privilege. I`ve been looking forward to this for a long time now and should be a great chance for a result”.
“We are going to come back stronger and I`m fully focused on getting a strong result and that’s only been possible thanks to the support of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and all my partners for helping us to get there, they have been incredible. It’s an exciting adventure that is only just beginning”.
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