AUTHOR: VERA VON MONIKA
From Olympus Rally in America to Portugal, the 21 years old driver participated in Rally Terras D’Aboboreira and we had a very interesting conversation.
Josh McErlean "no matter what car you drive - you will get experience."
Josh, it is nice to see you here in Portugal. What are your impressions of this rally?
Rali Terras D’Aboboreira was quite an eye-opening experience for me. This was my first time in Portugal and competing on the many different surfaces the stages have. It was very cool to see the different types of roads which will serve us very well going into WRC Rally Portugal next week.
Are you enjoying the stages?
The stages are insane, I love them! When you get into a good rhythm the stages are something else, the crests, the speed, and the fans – crazy!
Was there any stage you found more interesting and if yes, why?
I really enjoyed the final two stages (apart from a burst brake pipe). Fast with many crests and jumps, it is a very good feeling when you are in a Hyundai i20 R5.
You were at Olympus Rally just last weekend, how was it to be competing with drivers such as Ken Block?
Ken Block and Travis Pastrana were two guys I looked up to as a child, they are superstars, especially in the US! I felt very privileged to stand beside them on the podium and even beat them to a stage win. This is an event I will not forget; I would love to experience it all again.
Previously, you were driving a Peugeot 208, and now you are behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 R5? The cars specs are really different! From a R2 to a R5! Was it a difficult change?
The jump from R2 to R5 is quite a big step, it was a challenge at the beginning adapting to different driving techniques, however, R2 is a very good class to learn how to drive fast – in the British Rally Championship you have top drivers and you have to be on the top of your game to challenge for victory.
Josh, you’ve been selected by Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing to become a member of the Junior Driver program, even though your relation with Hyundai is not new! How does it feel to be part of this program?
Being part of Hyundai’s Junior Driver program is quite special, to be in a program with such well known driver will push me forward - I must prove myself for the future and the only way of doing this is going against the fastest drivers in the world. I am still very new to World and European rallying but with the support of the Junior Driver program it will help me develop my driving career to the next level.
What is your overall opinion of Portuguese rally championship?
The Portuguese Rally Championship is very professional and has great speed. It was very nice to go against many local Portuguese drivers as you know they are all very quick and well-known drivers. I have watched many of these drivers compete in the WRC and ERC over the years, it was good to relate and compare my speed with them.
You have a great background, could you tell us how you decided to become a driver?
My family has always had a deep-rooted motorsport heritage, from my Father competing in many events across Ireland – I grew up watching this and really knew nothing else other than rallying. I started competing at track day events at the age of 11 and I haven’t looked back, it has taken a lot of hard work and dedication, but I love every second of it.
How is the everyday life of Josh the man not the driver?
Thinking about Rallying! I am in the midst of completing a Mechanical Engineering degree at University. However, rallying is my main priority now as in this sport you only get one chance at it, I must maximise the opportunity I am getting through the great support of Motorsport Ireland and the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy.
What are your future plans?
I aspire to reach the pinnacle of rallying and compete at the top level of the WRC. I know how much work it takes to get there – I am putting everything into it! For now, I will drive a smart WRC Rally Portugal, build further WRC experience, and improve my pace throughout the event.
You are a young driver, yet you have impressed many, what advice would you give to aspiring Rally drivers?
Get a competition licence and get out on the stages and compete, no matter what car you drive - you will get experience. If you are willing to put a lot of hard work, dedication and time into your rallying people will take notice and help! You must believe in yourself or no one else will!