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McErlean seeks a change in fortune in West Cork

McErlean seeks valuable points for his BRC campaign in West Cork this weekend - Image Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award winner Josh McErlean will be looking for a positive result at this weekend’s Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally (14/15 March) after suffering an early exit from the opening round of the British Rally Championship (BRC) in Wales last month.

Despite a strong performance during the season opener which saw McErlean running as high as third overall, he was forced to retire after hitting a rock in the penultimate stage of the event. Aiming to put the opening round behind him, the 20-year-old will be looking to secure a strong result as the Clonakilty based event houses the second round of the BRC.

The Kilrea ace has undoubtedly proved that he is worthy of a top-flight seat after his performances in the Junior British Rally Championship last season saw him take the title with one round to spare. The subsequent prize drive on Wales Rally GB marked the beginning of the relationship with Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing and McErlean soon bedded into the i20 R5 which this season is being run by the Philip Case Rally Sport outfit.

His R5 debut in the BRC in North Wales last month saw him instantly get to grips with the Hyundai, setting a string of top times to move into the podium positions before an early exit from the event. McErlean believes that this weekend’s West Cork Rally offers the opportunity to regain the momentum he lost after the Cambrian.

“Of course, it's frustrating to look at the championship scoreboard so early in the season and see a zero next to your name, but we simply have to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down and look to Cork as the turning point,” he says buoyantly.

“I have a huge amount of learning to do in the Irish lanes, just like I had to learn the car for the gravel, so it is like a reset switch has been set really. That will probably mean that we can’t expect to be looking at BRC podiums this weekend, especially with the experience of the other guys around us. But I want to find a pace that I`m happy with and just progress during the weekend. It’s a very long event compared to the Cambrian”.
McErlean will face tough opposition in Ireland - Image Credited: Jakob Ebrey Photography
The West Cork Rally is one of the longest in the series, with 14 stages housing a generous 220 kilometres spread across two days. With stages hugging the Irish coast, conditions are often unpredictable and with almost 30 R5’s contesting event thanks to the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and BRC fighting for honours, McErlean will have to call on all his experience from last season.

“I enjoyed West Cork in the [Peugeot] 208 last year and we won the Juniors, but of course this will be a very different attack this time around. We have to focus on getting a solid result and bagging some points and I’ve been working hard on the on-boards from last year to try and hit the ground running, but there is no doubt it’s an important event in my R5 career”.
McErlean (L) and Williams (R)  Image Credits: - Jakob Ebrey Photography

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