Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy Update: December 2020
Callum Devine finished eighth overall and third among the ERC1 Junior competitors on Rally Islas Canarias.
Two members of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy were in action in recent weeks with both Callum Devine and Josh McErlean competing in Rally Hungary and Rally Islas Canarias, the final two rounds of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship, in a pair of Hyundai i20 R5 cars. Josh McErlean and co-driver Keaton Williams will head to ACI Rally Monza this weekend for the WRC finale with the young duo set to make only their second-ever World Championship start.
Devine, who suffered 2 retirements on the opening rounds of the series got his season back on track with a brace of top 10 finishes, taking seventh in Hungary and eight in Gran Canaria with co-driver James Fulton. Speaking on the conclusion of his season, Devine said: “I’m delighted we finished the season on a good note and to get an ERC1 Junior podium was a nice reward for our efforts. It takes a huge team effort to compete at this level in a normal year, let alone during a global pandemic. Everyone at the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, especially John Coyne and Sean McHugh and all their partners, Pirelli, EARS Motorsport, Marina Racewear and Process Networks deserve huge praise. Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing and especially PCRS worked so hard to get us to each event and I’m extremely thankful for their support all season, it simply would not have been possible without them. Both my co-drivers this season, Brian and James were brilliant too. There were times, especially early this season, when it wasn’t easy but with everyone working towards a common goal, we were able to turn our season around and that bodes well for the future. Obviously, we’ll have to sit down and discuss plans for 2021 but I would love another crack at the ERC and build on the progress shown this year.”
McErlean meanwhile took eleventh place in Hungary on his debut at ERC level driving a faultless event and his performance earned him a call up for Rally Islas Canarias. Amid changing conditions, McErlean struggled with tyre choice and punctures but he was satisfied with his progression over the event.
“I still pinch myself that I'm doing the FIA ERC and I've learnt so much over these last two events, it's been a pleasure to be here. Huge thanks to the MI Rally Academy and all our partners for their support.”
Indeed, McErlean’s season is not yet finished as he has been selected by Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing to compete in ACI Rally Di Monza, the final round of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship which will take place this weekend.
McErlean contested the event last year when it was a non-championship event but will return this year as a WRC3 registered entry.
“Just when I thought this year couldn’t get any better, I get a phone call to say change your Sunday flight, you have an entry to Monza,” said a startled McErlean.
“It was a huge surprise, and it took a while for it to sink in. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for me to contest a WRC round. This will be the first time I’ll have driven the Hyundai on an event which I’ll be familiar with and that’s actually quite exciting. I really enjoyed Monza last year and although this will have a very different look to it, I’ll at least have some experience of the stages within the circuit. I do have to keep reminding myself that I have only a handful of rallies under my belt in the Hyundai so I’m still learning a lot about the car and myself. It will need to be a measured drive for me, but I’ve proven I can do that this year.”
ACI Rally Di Monza will primarily be based and take place in the confines of the iconic Autodromo Nazionale Monza which also plays host to the Italian Grand Prix. However, the event will also feature a trio of stages in the mountains north of Milan.
Josh McErlean will once again be behind the wheel of a Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing i20 R5 on ACI Rally Monza.