Josh McErlean will be reunited with co-driver James Fulton for Tet Rally Liepāja on June 17 and 18.
The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver is contesting the Latvian round of the FIA European Rally Championship.
He and Fulton last worked together on last October’s Rally Spain when the Cavan co-driver was crowned WRC2 – Junior class World Champion.
Shortly after the Spanish event, the late Craig Breen recruited Fulton and John Rowan took over co-driving duties for McErlean.
However, Rally Liepāja is on the same weekend as the Donegal International Rally and Rowan has a previous commitment to compete in that rally alongside David Bogie. This paved the way for Fulton’s return to the seat.
“I am looking forward to working with Josh and the Rally Academy team again, I have many good memories with them, also nice to be returning to compete on this rally for the third time, with it being a round of the World Rally Championship next year it’s important to get the experience of it,” said Fulton.
His two previous outings in Rally Liepāja were alongside Callum Devine in 2021 and a year earlier with Cathan McCourt.
McErlean and Fulton are one of several Irish crews contesting the fourth round of the FIA European championship.
“Some very fast roads with a very good friend, it doesn’t get much better. Fuzzy has helped me a lot and it is great to have him back in the car,” said McErlean.
“We are excited to get to Latvia, it looks like a fantastic rally with a high-speed rhythm. We showed good pace in Poland, and I want to build on this for a good push at this event. The team behind the scenes is very busy doing a mighty job.”
Eamonn Kelly and Conor Mohan are another Rally Academy crew who are entering the rally for experience.
They are currently contesting the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, their first year doing so, and with the Latvian event set to be announced as a 2024 JWRC counter the Donegal/Monaghan crew are using rally as a high-speed training exercise.
His debut in the European championship coincides with his home event, the Donegal International Rally, which takes place the same weekend.
“No Donegal for us,” he said. “The next round of the Junior WRC is in Estonia and Latvia will be a round next year, so we are going there to get used to the fast roads in that part of the world and to learn the event for next year.”
They will drive a locally sourced Ford Fiesta Rally 3 at Rally Liepāja.
Galway’s Aoife Raftery and her Welsh co-driver Claire Williams will make their second Junior European Rally Championship appearance of the year after a successful maiden outing in Poland last month driving a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Peugeot 208 Rally 4.
“We are really looking forward to Latvia and building on the experience from Poland, it is exciting to get a chance to compete in the Junior-ERC with help and with support from the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy,” said Raftery.
“They are tough events, and it is a tough class, we just want to build on our pace and keep improving, same as Poland we will be taking each stage and each day one at a time. Our focus is to get to the finish and improve and get the experience. Poland was an eye opener, it was an experience, long days but we know now what to expect.”
Motorsport Ireland licence holder Australia-based Mac Kierans will co-drive for Max McRae in an Opel Corsa Rally 4.
Text by: Sean Moriarty