Josh McErlean will embark on an FIA World Rally Championship programme in 2022, tackling seven events in the WRC2 category behind the wheel of a Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy supported Hyundai i20 N Rally2.
The 22-year-old will be co-driven by James Fulton in the PCRS Rallysport run machine and the duo will take the next step of their dynamic careers by mounting an assault on the prestigious WRC2 championship, starting on the snow and ice-covered forest roads of Rally Sweden at the end of February.
The 2019 Billy Coleman Award winner has enjoyed an impressive rise towards the top echelons of the sport with McErlean’s 2021 season returning a rewarding set of results to vault him towards a career-defining 2022 campaign. A successful venture in the older generation Hyundai i20 R5 and debut in the newer i20 N Rally2, saw him make significant strides forward in his pace.
Overall podium finishes in the Olympus Rally in the USA and Rally Alba in Italy were bolstered by contesting selected events in the WRC, with McErlean netting a sixth place, two fifths and a third in the WRC3 category.
Now McErlean and Fulton will aim to continue building their experience by contesting the full WRC2 championship in 2022, the principal support category of the World Rally Championship and McErlean is understandably delighted at the prospect of the forthcoming season.
“I am truly privileged to be in this position and announcing a WRC2 campaign for 2022,” he says. “I’ve dreamt of this moment from a very young age and to see it actually happening is such an incredible feeling. Since winning the coveted Billy Coleman Award in 2019 I have focused fully on the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy program and I hugely appreciate the guidance and support I have received from the Academy, PCRS Rallysport and Hyundai Motorsport. Their logical step by step approach to increasing my knowledge, experience, and pace over the last two years has been invaluable. I’m eagerly looking forward to taking this next step in my career on the path towards the top level of the World Rally Championship.”
“We have a very strong team around us going into 2022, and I feel everything has come together just at the right time” continues McErlean. “James and I have a huge year ahead and of course, it’s undoubtedly our biggest challenge to date. I am fully aware that this campaign will be a tough one and I`ll be going up against the best in the business so it will take hard work and dedication to excel at this level. I’ve put my whole life into getting this far and I am fully prepared for the exciting challenge that lies ahead.”
Sean McHugh, Motorsport Ireland coordinator for the Billy Coleman Award and the Rally Academy said: “We are delighted to see Josh and James move forward to a full WRC2 campaign this year. The Academy programmes are designed to identify and nurture outstanding talent and reward the kind of work ethic which Josh and James have demonstrated in their approach to developing themselves and taking advantage of everything the Academy has to offer. We look forward to facilitating the continued development of their abilities and talents in 2022 and beyond.”
Philip Case, Team Principal of PCRS Rallysport said: “Providing the platform for Josh and James to develop as rally stars of the future has been extremely rewarding for myself and the team. Their level of maturity and willingness to work hard at understanding the car and how to extract the best from it and themselves has been exemplary. The team is looking forward to continuing to work with them in this full season in WRC2 and the PCRS Hyundai i20 N Rally2.”
About the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy:
The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy was established in 2019 to encourage young Irish rally athletes, providing training, guidance, and support towards a career at the highest levels of the sport. Since winning the Junior British Rally Championship and the Billy Coleman Award as Young Rally Driver of the Year in 2019, McErlean’s career has been guided and supported by the Academy. New for 2022, an Academy Elite Athlete Program has been established to further enhance the offering, supporting the continuous development of drivers and co-drivers in their career aspirations to reach the top level of the World Rally Championship.