Josh McErlean’s 2020 rally season will recommence in August on Italy’s Rally di Alba, the Billy Coleman Award winner’s first event since the Birr Stages Rally in February. McErlean will pilot a PCRS-prepared Hyundai i20 R5 as he did in Birr and on the British Rally Championship’s opening round, the Cambrian Rally.
“When it was announced that the BRC was cancelled,” explained McErlean, “we had to go back to the drawing table.
“We have been working really hard behind the scenes to explore other avenues and thanks to the unrivalled support from the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, we were able to get the go-ahead to enter Rally di Alba.”
The event which is based in the north-west of Italy features three separate stages repeated three times. Although the format may sound familiar, Rally di Alba provides McErlean with an opportunity to experience Italian asphalt and broaden his knowledge of European rallying.
“The event itself looks quite unique with it being based on mountain roads, something I have never really experienced before.
“I have been going over previous onboards of the rally which is a good way to get a feeling for the event and see what the terrain is like.
“Italy in August will be quite hot, being physically and mentally prepared is quite important. With the support from the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy it makes this training a little easier.”
McErlean will form part of a considerable Hyundai Motorsport line-up including the two i20 WRCs of Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville.
Callum Devine has also arranged to compete in Rally di Alba, maximising his trip to the Mediterranean for Rally di Roma Capitale which runs the weekend before and marks the start of his European Rally Championship campaign.
Meanwhile, McErlean remains focused on Rally di Alba and tight-lipped on any plans for the rest of the season.
“I have limited asphalt experience in the Hyundai so I really need to be realistic about my expectations of a result.
“The focus is to get back into the groove again, six months out of the car is certainly not ideal but it will be pretty much the same for everyone.
“I realise that gaining European experience is unbelievably valuable so we will have a clear goal on the pace we want to be at and will try to stick at it throughout the rally.
“It is a real honour to be competing out there and I’m very thankful for the amazing support around us.”
Rally di Alba’s nine stages take place on Sunday 2nd August totalling just over 100 km.
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