Josh McErlain set for world rally return in Portugal

Northern Ireland’s Josh McErlean will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in the Rally de Portugal (May 20-23).

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 5:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 5:12 pm

The 21-year-old Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy team member will race a PCRS Rallysport-run Hyundai i20 R5 in the WRC3 category of the three-day gravel event.

It will be his first world rally event since Rally Monza last December - finishing 17th overall - and McErlain will be joined by regular co-driver Keaton Williams.

The Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver has enjoyed an impressive run of form during the past month, contesting events on both sides of the Atlantic and securing his maiden podium position.

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Josh McErlain in action in Portugal. (Picture: Andre Ferreira)

At the start of May, he competed in the high-profile Dirtfish Olympus Rally in the USA, going up against much more powerful open-class machinery and a star-studded entry list which included icons such as Ken Block and Travis Pastrana.

McErlean dominated the RC2 class and set an outright fastest time on his way to third overall on his American debut, before heading straight to Portugal to contest Rali Terras D’Aboboreira.

In a tough event for the Irishman, McErlean would suffer from a lowly road position and the accompanying road conditions but still managed to secure a result just outside of the top ten.

McErlean will put his Portuguese experience to good use as he is set to tackle the fourth round of the WRC tour.

The Kilrea man said: “It’s no secret that we are still very eager to learn new rallies, new surfaces and get as much experience as we can under our belts this season and being able to contest WRC Portugal is a real privilege,.

“We are looking to push harder than we did last year and we have to use our heads, be smart and put all our knowledge from the past two events to good use.

“Olympus was a fast rally and it was great to be so competitive from the outset and I’m hugely greatful to Enda McCormack of McCormack Contracting for the car,” he added.

“Coming back to the WRC will be a great marker for me to see how I`ve improved over the last six months in confidence and experience.

“I’m very eager to see how we get on against the regular WRC contenders.”