Kilrea driver Josh McErlean.
KILREA’S Josh McErlean has told Chronicle Sport he is quietly confident ahead of this weekend’s Rally Hungary, the antepenultimate round of the European Rally Championship.
The reigning Junior British Rally Champion and Billy Coleman Award winner is making the trip to Hungary after a last minute deal was agreed with his family-run team and Motorsport Ireland representatives.
McErlean got his first taste of the country’s roads during a pre-event test on Wednesday when he was joined by fellow Motorsport Ireland Academy member, Callum Devine. He finished third on the rally 12 months ago.
Before the asphalt event, which gets underway with a Super Special Stage on Friday evening followed by 15 timed tests spread across Saturday and Sunday, McErlean will get the chance to work on the set-up of his Hyundai i20 R5 with co-driving team-mate, Keaton Williams.
“The test is going to be very important to us,” he said.
“Hungary’s roads are unique, they are quite different to what I’m used to, so it is crucial for us to try and arrive at a set-up that we are comfortable with.
“This will only be our second proper tarmac event in a R5 rally car, so there is still a lot of learning to do, but I feel that we have prepared quite well for Rally Hungary.
“Everything is in place ahead of the recce; I have a full set of pace notes completed that I wrote up watching onboard footage from last year’s Rally Hungary.
“It takes time to do this but I’m sure it will he worth it come Thursday and Friday when we head out to do our recce,” he added.
For all his past glories, McErlean says he is playing the long game at Rally Hungary meaning mileage in the car will be more important that prizes this time around.
“It’s rally week and there is quite a bit of excitement but we have to remain calm, we have play this rally smart and use our heads.
“We haven’t been in a rally car since Rally di Alba back in July so we have to use the test day, which is not far from where the rally is based, wisely. This will be the next stepping stone in my career; it has been going well so far so we will try to keep things going that way.
“With PCRS and Callum’s knowledge from last year’s event it will make this task a little easier,” he added.
“They have experience of this event and I plan to use that to my advantage as best I can.”
Rally Hungary boasts a quality entry, with top names such as Andreas Mikkelsen, Craig Breen, Alexey Lukyanuk and Oliver Solberg among the starters.