Josh McErlean continued his impressive recent form, finishing third overall on Sunday’s Rally di Alba in north-west Italy. Nine top six stage-times from all nine stages was enough to secure his second career podium.
The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver finished under a minute behind rally winner, Luca Rossetti. The seasoned Italian driver, who has won European, Italian, and Turkish rally titles, pipped Corrado Fontana to victory by 4.6 seconds.
In fact, it was a Hyundai 1-2-3 on Andrea Adamo’s home rally with Corrado’s ex-Thierry Neuville World Rally Car in an R5 sandwich.
“I’m really pleased with the pace we have shown this weekend,” said McErlean.
“When you look at last year’s stage times against this year, I can see how much I have improved over the last 12 months and that’s critical to my progression.
“It was all about managing that pace as well, so we had to drive with our heads and deal with being in a podium position, that’s not always easy but it was a great feeling to know we dealt with the situation perfectly.”
Meanwhile, Oliver Solberg and Aaron Johnston claimed their first asphalt win together in a separate section for latest-generation WRCs. Hyundai team-mate Ott Tanak had led the event until Stage 7 when the 2019 world champion picked up a two and a half minute penalty for arriving late to the time control.
“I know we will register this as a win,” said Solberg, “but I don’t take this so seriously. We could see all the time Ott’s speed was pretty incredible, so I think there is still some work for me to do!”
Solberg and Johnston’s weekend was topped off with the announcement that they will drive an i20 WRC on Safari Rally Kenya later in June.
McErlean too had some exciting plans to share, he’s off to the European Rally Championship next month for its first asphalt round of the season. Rally di Roma will give McErlean and the Philip Case Rallysport outfit a chance to prove their pace against Europe’s fastest Rally2 crews.