Tue 04 Jul 2023

McErlean’s confidence on the up as O’Brien makes ERC return

The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy will expand to a two-car Rally2 line-up on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia this week with Josh McErlean on a high and Patrick O’Brien aiming for more FIA European Rally Championship experience.

Driving a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2, McErlean claimed a career-best fourth on Tet Rally Liepāja last month, a result that the 23-year-old reckons can only help him heading into the second half of the season.

“Fourth overall was good for us and the team,” said McErlean, who was reunited with former co-driver James Fulton for the Latvian event. “The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy is putting in a serious effort and the result was good confidence moving into Sweden and going forward.

“By doing these events and getting full mileage in, I’m learning and getting the benefit from it. The past three or four rallies, also in the WRC, have been very solid as well. We want to keep this momentum going as everyone would, keep on improving the pace because these top boys are a bit out of the way yet.”

BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia marks Patrick O’Brien’s second ERC outing following his debut on the Fafe season opener in March. The 26-year-old will continue at the wheel of his family-run Škoda Fabia R5 previously driven by 2019 European champion Chris Ingram.

“It’s going to be a thrilling test for both the team and the car and I can't wait to experience how the Škoda performs on the fast gravel roads,” O’Brien wrote on Facebook. “A huge thank you to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy for their incredible support and for trusting me with this amazing opportunity once again. I’m ready to go full throttle.”

Hankook-equipped Junior ERC driver Aoife Raftery (below) will also compete under the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy banner on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia, which takes place from 6 - 8 July.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM