Mon 31 Jan 2022

McErlean eyes WRC2 Junior success with Hyundai

Irish hotshot Josh McErlean is preparing for his biggest season to date with a seven-round programme in WRC2.

The 22-year-old starred in sporadic WRC3 outings last season with a Hyundai i20 R5 which he steered to third at Rally RACC - Rally de España. He upgraded to a newer i20 N Rally2 model for the finale at Monza where he finished sixth. 

This year McErlean will tackle his first full campaign in the i20 thanks to support from the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy.

Whilst he will face a raft of seasoned rivals including Toksport stars Andreas Mikkelsen and Nikolay Gryazin, the youngster is focusing primarily on success in the WRC2 Junior class for drivers under the age of 30. 

“[The Rally2 cars] are all together and you're going against the best in the business, so it's going to be a big challenge,” McErlean told WRC.com. 

“It's definitely a big step-up compared to WRC3 last year, but we’re probably more focused on the WRC2 Junior category. It's great to have that there and good to have a championship in mind rather than picking rally by rally and not knowing exactly where you're going.

“Monza was our first time in the i20 N and it was a good car. It's got a lot of potential, but extracting that potential right away was quite difficult for me in Monza,” he added.

McErlean is one of 24 WRC2 entrants for Rally Sweden next month (24 - 27 February). 

He remains undecided on what his six other nominated rallies will be, but plans to test on snow next week - a surface he has not previously driven on. 

“It’s certainly one of those bucket list rallies,” said McErlean of his Sweden debut, “it's my first time on snow and I’ve got zero previous experience of it, but we're going to do a two-day test next week. 

“It's going to be something else in terms of the speed and the way you can use the studded tyres and the snow banks -  it's just a whole new experience. As a driver, you're always looking forward to rallies, but I think this one's a bit more exciting.”

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