Josh McErlean has received a pre-season boost as Hyundai Motorsport included the 21-year-old in its 2021 Junior Driver programme. McErlean joins five other rally drivers in the initiative: Ole Christian Veiby, Oliver Solberg, Jari Huttunen, Pierre-Louis Loubet, and Gregoire Munster.
Hyundai’s press release revealed that McErlean’s will embark on a WRC 3 challenge as well as European and British Rally Championship outings. Rally Insight believes these plans will be confirmed later in the month.
“This is such a huge honour to be part of the Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver programme,” said McErlean. “It’s been a very hard twelve months for so many of us but this is one of the moments where all the hard work, dedication, and faith that I’ve had in my abilities over the past five years of my career years has finally been realised.
“This of course is not just a special moment for me, but for all those that have supported me on my incredible journey so far, and in some ways, it’s only just beginning.
“It really is phenomenal to have the support of a Junior Driver programme run by the 2020 World Rally Championship winning manufacturer.”
Focused mindset key to McErlean’s 2020 development
McErlean’s coronavirus-disrupted 2020 ended strongly with three finishes on Rally Hungary, Canary Islands Rally, and Rally Monza.
The 2019 Junior BRC champion had hoped to step up into the BRC’s R5 fight last year but it was cancelled after the opening round – Cambrian Rally.
Motorsport Ireland will continue to support McErlean who described the academy as a key part of his development.
“It’s not been all about my performances on the stages.
“The encouragement, support, and opportunities that the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, John Coyne, and the Billy Coleman Award have provided and continue to provide is pivotal on my progress up the ladder and this recognition from Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing really harnesses that support.
“Undoubtedly, 2021 is going to be my most important year to date and we have to maximise this opportunity and make the most out of the resources we have at our disposal.
“I am in a privileged position and I’m confident we can bring everything together and make it one complete package.”
Photos courtesy of Hyundai Motorsport