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McErlean gets Monza call after Canary Islands finale



Josh McErlean

Josh McErlean

Josh McErlean

For an adventurous group of Irish drivers it will be a final fling of the season and where better to put to bed a difficult, frustrating year than in the winter sunshine of the Canary Islands.

Craig Breen, Callum Devine, Josh McErlean, Cathan McCourt, Gareth Sayers and Pauric Duffy have all made their way to Gran Canaria for the final round of the European Championship along with co-driver Aaron Johnston who could yet finish as champion alongside Norwegian teenager Oliver Solberg.

And, lurking way down the 100-strong starting list is Marty McCormack who, at this time of the year, would usually be slipping and sliding through the British forests in the RAC Rally.

But, like all other rallies in the British Isles, it has been cancelled so former British Junior champion McCormack, who has won the historic marathon three times, has taken his Mk2 Ford Escort to the Canaries to "blow away the coronavirus blues".

But while Breen and company will mostly pack up their bags on Sunday and head home, McErlean will catch a flight to Italy for the final round of the World Championship, the Monza Rally.

The British Junior champion and Billy Coleman Award winner has secured a late entry for an event which could see 2016 Ulster Rally winner Elfyn Evans crowned World champion.

"Just when I thought this year couldn't get any better, I got a phone call to say change your Sunday flight, you have an entry to Monza," said McErlean.

"It was a huge surprise and and an unbelievable opportunity for me to contest a WRC round," said the 21-year-old from Kilrea.

"My focus needs to be on Rally Islas Canarias right now but looking ahead to the week after is such an exciting prospect, I really can't believe it".

McErlean took part in the Monza Rally last year, putting in an impressive performance, but then it was a light-hearted event, based in and around the historic Italian Grand Prix circuit.

This time it has been turned into an emergency and critical round of a World Championship decimated by Covid-19.

Breen, Devine and Duffy are also in R5 Hyundais while McCourt, the Irish forestry champion, and Sayers make their ERC debuts in R5 Ford Fiestas.

The rally starts from Las Palmas tomorrow morning.

Belfast Telegraph