Josh McErlean will tackle one of the most famous motorsport events in the world in 2023, as he is set to drive a Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy-supported Hyundai i20 N Rally2 in the iconic Rallye Monte-Carlo [19-21 January 2023].
McErlean, 23 years old from Kilrea, Co.Derry, has just completed his maiden FIA World Rally Championship campaign finishing tenth overall in the 2022 WRC2 Junior category of the series, piloting a PCRS Rallysport run Hyundai, with a podium at the tricky Rally Estonia a highlight of his campaign.
Now, the 2019 Billy Coleman Award winner will embark on the next step of his career by contesting the opening round of the World Rally Championship for the first time and will be joined by a new co-driver, the extremely accomplished John Rowan. Rowan is no stranger to the team, having assisted in McErlean’s WRC assault with behind-the-scenes support. The Irishman has almost 230 rally starts under his belt guiding a wealth of drivers and his global rallying experience is set to provide valuable expertise to the squad in 2023.
“Starting Rallye Monte Carlo from the legendary Casino Square in Monaco is realising a childhood dream,” says McErlean. “It will be a huge milestone in my career and for the Academy project and I am incredibly grateful and proud to be part of it.”
As McErlean and the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy are working hard to finalise plans for the season ahead, they have secured a spot in the illustrious season opener which will start from the famous Monaco principality on the French Riviera. Dubbed one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar, Rallye Monte Carlo offers over 325 kilometres of competitive action in the snow and ice-covered mountains in the French Alps, spread over four days: the ultimate test of driving ability.
Despite his experience gained at WRC level over the last few years, McErlean believes this opportunity offers one of the toughest tests of his skills to date but is excited to take on the challenge ahead.
“It’s such a different prospect to anything I`ve done before and with such jeopardy in terms of stage conditions and weather, there is a huge amount of preparation that needs to be done ahead of the event to enable us to cope with that when it comes. I am delighted to team up with John [Rowan] as we already have a good working relationship both in and out of the car. Monte Carlo is one of those events where teamwork is vital and having the support of the Academy and PCRS Rallysport is very reassuring. I have no doubt this rally will be as demanding as it gets, but we will leave no stone unturned in our preparations and use our head to start 2023 with a strong result.”
Further details on McErlean’s partners will follow shortly.