Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Josh McErlean belied his lack of experience to finish “the toughest rally” of his life with a fine 11th-place finish on Rally Hungary.
The current Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award winner, competing in a Hyundai i20 R5 alongside co-driver Keaton Williams, was making his FIA European Rally Championship debut. Despite this and the tough nature of the sealed-surface event, the 21-year-old was undaunted.
“There has been so much hard work from so many people to make this event possible for me so it’s fantastic to be able to reward them with a great result on my first time in the European Rally Championship,” McErlean said. “I learnt more about the car and myself in the handful of stages on Saturday morning than I had done in my whole career. It was so unique and challenging and the toughest rally of my life, but I loved every moment of it.
“It’s easy to see why the guys out front think this is the hardest event on the ERC calendar and I’m glad that I conquered it without any dramas at all. It’s been a very clean run, the puncture we had was unavoidable and the Michelin tyres were superb, so it has been a textbook event. I’m over the moon.”
Afterwards McErlean paid tribute to the partners his made his ERC debut possible. “I must say I would never have had the opportunity to even try without the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, Michelin Motorsport, Andrew Johns at Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing and of course John Coyne. The PCRS Rallysport team produced a stunning car, it was such an amazing experience.”
Visit FIAERC.com soon to find out more about Callum Devine’s strong run to seventh place in the lead Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy entry.