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McErlean excited to embark on Monza mission

 

Big opportunity: Josh McErlean will race at the Monza Rally Show
Big opportunity: Josh McErlean will race at the Monza Rally Show

By Sammy Hamill

British Junior champion Josh McErlean steps up to a new level to join Craig Breen and several World Championship stars in the starting list for the spectacular Monza Rally Show in Italy this weekend.

The 20-year-old from Kilrea joins not just Breen but the likes of Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen in the line-up for the big end-of-season event which takes place in and around the Monza Grand Prix circuit and features a string of Italian favourites.

McErlean, who won the British title in his little R2 Peugeot with a round to spare, switches to an R5 Hyundai i20 which will be run by the Italian PromoRacing team. He is no stranger to R5 cars, having tested a Hyundai in France earlier this year and made his WRC debut on Wales Rally GB as part of his Championship-winning prize. But after a promising start, he was forced out with a technical issue.

Undeterred, he submitted an entry for the Monza Rally and was delighted when it was accepted.

"The Monza Rally Show is just one of those must-do events and to be offered the chance to compete in such a high-profile European event behind the wheel of an R5 Hyundai is pretty mind-blowing," he said.

"It will be a great experience and I want to sample as many events as I can. It will all help my career in the future and that is my primary focus right now."

Next Tuesday will also be a big date in determining his immediate future when the winner of Motorsport Ireland's Billy Coleman Award will be announced in Dublin.

It carries a prize package of up to €100,000 and McErlean is in the final list of three alongside Derek Mackarel and David Kelly.

Breen was back home for the Killarney Historic Rally last weekend, driving an Mk2 Ford Escort, but had to concede defeat to local hero Rob Duggan, also driving an Escort.

Like Sordo and Mikkelsen, he will be on board an R5 Hyundai at Monza, a car in which he won the Ulster Rally on his way to the Irish Tarmac Championship.

The West Cork Rally, which Breen also won, and the Ulster International are again included in both the Irish series and the British Championship next season.

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