Two Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy members will make their debuts on the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo [19-21 January 2023].
Josh McErlean and William Creighton will both drive Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy-supported Hyundai i20 N Rally2s prepared by PCRS on the iconic event which will open next year’s World Rally Championship.
McErlean, 23 years old from Kilrea, County Derry, has just completed his maiden FIA World Rally Championship campaign finishing tenth overall in the 2022 WRC2 Junior category of the series, piloting a PCRS Rallysport run Hyundai, with a podium at the tricky Rally Estonia a highlight of his campaign.
Now, the 2019 Billy Coleman Award winner will embark on the next step of his career by contesting the opening round of the World Rally Championship for the first time and will be joined by a new co-driver, the extremely accomplished John Rowan.
Rowan is no stranger to the team, having assisted in McErlean’s WRC assault with behind-the-scenes support. The Antrim man has almost 230 rally starts under his belt guiding a wealth of drivers and his global rallying experience is set to provide valuable expertise to the squad in 2023.
“Starting Rallye Monte Carlo from the legendary Casino Square in Monaco is realising a childhood dream,” said McErlean.
“It will be a huge milestone in my career and for the Academy project and I am incredibly grateful and proud to be part of it. I am delighted to team up with John [Rowan] as we already have a good working relationship both in and out of the car. Monte Carlo is one of those events where teamwork is vital and having the support of the Academy and PCRS Rallysport is very reassuring.”
Creighton, 24 from Moira in County Down will tackle his second-ever FIA World Rally Championship event in Rally2 machinery, having secured a sensational result at WRC Rally RACC Catalunya – Rally de España in October in the Hyundai, his prize for winning the 2021 Junior British Rally Championship.
Despite a puncture, Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan stormed to a top-30 result and secured first non-priority crew in their WRC Rally2 debut, further enhancing a positive season in the Junior WRC which saw them take two podiums during their campaign.
Now, the progressive driver will head for the oldest and toughest event in the WRC calendar.
“I really didn’t think anything could top my WRC Spain prize drive in the Hyundai,” he says.
“But to have the opportunity to be heading to the most famous rally in the world behind the wheel of a Rally2 car is the stuff dreams are made of. Everyone knows Rallye Monte Carlo, whether you have an interest in the sport or not and it’s such a privilege to be tackling this iconic event with the support and backing of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy.”
“I’m hugely indebted to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy for helping make this happen and of course for their unrivalled support network throughout the event which will be essential to have a chance of a result of any sort. It’s a huge opportunity in my career, and I`m grabbing it with both hands.”
Their appearance at the event brings to five the total number of Motorsport Ireland licence holders tackling the legendary rally.
McErlean/Rowan and Creighton/Ragan join Tyrone co-driver Aaron Johnston who is will be working alongside Toyota Gazoo Racing factory driver Takamoto Katsuta in a Toyota Yaris Rally1.
More Motorsport Ireland licence holders are expected to be announced before the official entry list is released on January 9.
Dubbed one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar, Rallye Monte Carlo offers over 325 kilometres of competitive action in the snow and ice-covered mountains in the French Alps, spread over four days: the ultimate test of driving ability.
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