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Portugal next for McErlean after star role in the States 



Josh McErlean

Josh McErlean

Josh McErlean

No resting on his laurels for British Junior champion Josh McErlean after his successful American rally debut.

The 23-year-old from Kilrea finished third overall on the Olympus Rally in Washington State, sharing the podium with two icons of American motorsport, Travis Pastrana and Ken Block, and winning the RC2 category in a borrowed Hyundai R5.

Only the more powerful Open class Subarus of Pastrana and Block finished ahead of McErlean and co-driver Keaton Williams in the forests around Olympia; Billy Coleman Award winner McErlean even setting outright fastest time on the 20-mile Wildcat stage.

"It has been an amazing experience and a mega rally," said McErlean, who will head directly to Portugal for the Rali Terras D'Aboboreira this weekend as part of his build-up to the start of a European Championship campaign.

The ERC series has been pushed back until June following the postponement of the Azores Rally - the islands are subject to  coronavirus restrictions - and McErlean has opted to head to the Portuguese Championship event where he is due to be joined in the line-up by Irish forestry champion Cathan McCourt and Pauric Duffy.

The American trip was organised with the backing of the Motorsport Ireland Academy and support from US-based Irish drivers such as Enda McCormack, who supplied the i20 Hyundai for McErlean, Barry McKenna and John Coyne.

California-based veteran Coyne, the Irish Tarmac champion way back in 1982, showed he can still steer a rally car, finishing fifth at the weekend.

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Sadly, it proved an abortive trip for McErlean's fellow Academy member Callum Devine, his McKenna Motorsport R5 Ford Fiesta retiring from fifth place on Sunday morning with an engine issue which had plagued him almost from the start.

Meanwhile, Steven Ferguson was the winner of Saturday's Larne Club autotest at Nutts Corner, the first motorsport event to be staged in Ulster since before Christmas.

The multi British and Irish champion won ahead of Robin Lyons, both driving Mini Specials, with Mark King third in his Vauxhall Nova.

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