Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Josh McErlean has a busy October in store as he is set to contest two FIA rallies in the space of four weeks.
First up is the final round of the FIA European Rally Championship which takes place in Hungary this weekend.
The new Central European Rally, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship will be held across three countries, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria at the end of October will be his second rally in October.
McErlean and co-driver James Fulton will drive a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on the two events.
Their last outing was at the all-Tarmac Barum Czech Rally Zlin in August, where they and co- showed impressive pace against the experienced locals.
“It feels like a very long time since we were last out so I’m thrilled to head back to the ERC next weekend, especially as it’s where I made my debut in the championship,” said the County Derry-based driver.
“It is one of those really challenging rallies where the roads and their characteristics are very changeable, much like the weather over there so it is important to be as consistent as possible throughout the weekend. But it is a great rally and will serve as the perfect test bed for our last WRC outing of the season at the new Central European Rally later in the month [26-29 October]”.
The Central European event will be McErlean’s fifth WRC outing of the year but the last time he and Fulton shared a car on a tarmac event was on Rally Spain a year ago.
“We have a great opportunity ahead of us to finish the year on a high” he added
“Our asphalt pace has been building this season, but I know there is work to be done so I have been working really hard in the downtime with the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy to address that. Their assistance has helped transform our gravel pace, and I believe we have the right tools in place to do the same on the tarmac.”
Monaghan co-driver Mac Kierans is also on the Rally Hungary entry list. He resumes his partnership with Max McRae. They are contesting the FIA Junior European Rally Championship category in their Opel Corsa Rally4.
Rally Hungary marks a return to the scene of their FIA European Rally Championship debut back in 2020. The rally offers around 180km of competition spread over three days from its base in Nyíregyháza.
FIA Rally Star - Saaremaa Rally, Estonia
The FIA Rally Star Training Season resumes in Estonia this week with the Saaremaa Rally.
The two-day event offers more learning and progression for some of rallying’s brightest prospects for future success.
The event marks the first of three gravel contests on the FIA Rally Star Training Season calendar and comes ahead of rallies in Spain and Germany.
Once the FIA Rally Star Training Season has concluded, the process of deciding the names of the four drivers and co-drivers who will progress to the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2024 will enter its final phase.
Among them is Ireland’s Ronan Comerford who is on co-driving duty for Oman’s Abdullah Al Tawqi in their Ford Fiesta Rally3.
He said: “I am very much looking forward to getting back on gravel, it is a surface that is quite unique. This is the first of a string of three [gravel rallies] to round of the season so we want to narrow down some gaps and make further progress.”
“We had a productive rally in Nova Gorica so now it’s about resetting and taking a new approach and adapting to the surface.”
The rally is notable as being the home of the event of 2019 World Rally Champion Ott Tanak. He is the top seed for the event and will drive a Ford Fiesta Rally for the Red Grey Rally Team.
Co-driver Aaron Johnston finished fifth in the 11th round of the World Rally Championship alongside his regular driver Takamoto Katsuta in their Toyota Yaris Rally1.
Rally Chile returned to the WRC calendar this year for the first time since 2019.
Text by Sean Moriarty Pics by Red Bull Content Pool