Home Motorsport News Rising Irish Rally Stars Handed Exciting Opportunities

Rising Irish Rally Stars Handed Exciting Opportunities

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As the 2024 motorsports season revs into action, anticipation and excitement are gripping the community in Ireland, with drivers and teams gearing up for new challenges and opportunities. A captivating blend of familiar favourites and exciting innovations promises to keep motorsport enthusiasts glued to the edge of their seats this year.

McErlean Switches to Skoda

The 2024 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship calendar offers a mix of familiarity and fresh challenges. While the core events remain the same, Cork 20 shifts gears with a return to its September date and a more condensed, single-day format. Meanwhile, the West Cork Rally throws caution to the wind, embracing a bold three-day structure that features thrilling night stages across two Fridays. Fans of the National Rally Championship can expect a different slate once again as the biennial rotation continues. The series kicks off with the Mayo Stages Rally, while the Donegal Harvest Rally will serve as the championship’s grand finale in October.

Among the notable contenders is Josh McErlean. The 24-year-old Irish rally sensation is poised for a fresh start with the Toksport Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 team. McErlean has moved from Hyundai to Skoda, embarking on his third WRC season under the Toksport WRT banner. Accompanied by his trusted co-driver, James Fulton, their seven-round campaign kicks off on the prestigious gravel stages of Rally de Portugal in early May. McErlean’s infectious enthusiasm echoes within the halls of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, igniting a spark of optimism. 

The decorated driver boasts an impressive resume, peppered with championship titles and podium finishes across Europe and the world. He’s a magnet for success and is guaranteed to stir a frenzy in the betting landscape. With his relentless dedication and the unwavering support of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, McErlean’s move to Toksport and Skoda instantly improves his odds of success. Punters in the Emerald Isle will undoubtedly flock to the top Irish betting apps, eager to place bets on McErlean. With the driver setting his sights on dominating the competitive WRC2 category, they could be rewarded with sizeable returns on those wagers. The Billy Coleman Award winner, who stunned audiences with a remarkable FIA European Rally Championship debut, is poised to deliver exceptional results.

Fresh off Junior WRC glory, Creighton Sets Sights on BRC Title

Rallying fans in Ireland are also buzzing with the news of William Creighton’s next adventure. Hot on the heels of his 2023 FIA Junior World Rally Championship triumph, the young driver is gearing up for a new challenge – conquering the British Rally Championship (BRC). Partnering with M-Sport and piloting a Ford Fiesta Rally2, Creighton isn’t just aiming for a scenic tour of British landscapes. He’s hungry for the BRC crown and, with extensive TV coverage on ITV4 and ITVX, the pressure will be on. 

More importantly, the BRC serves as a valuable training ground for Creighton’s future WRC2 aspirations, providing crucial seat time and experience. Alongside co-driver Liam Regan, Creighton has already hit the ground running, participating in the West Cork Rally as part of his pre-season preparations. This dedication bodes well for a thrilling season. Creighton will join forces with teammates Max McRae and Garry Pearson in the M-Sport squad, tackling the diverse six-round BRC series. 

The calendar boasts a mix of iconic events – from the adrenaline-pumping closed road stages of the Jim Clark Rally to the legendary Welsh forestry battles of Myherin and Hafren. The championship includes the Rali Ceredigion, which serves as a qualifier for the FIA European Rally Championship, adding to the significance of Creighton’s journey. The BRC kicks off in the heart of Lancashire on March 23. The North West Stages feature around 60 miles of closed roads, setting the stage for a thrilling spectacle.

Aiden Harper Appointed President of Motor Sport Ireland

Away from the thrills of gravel and mud, Aiden Harper has taken over the presidency of Motorsport Ireland, succeeding John Naylor after a distinguished tenure. Harper, who previously served as vice president of Motor Sport Ireland for the last two years, steps into the role vacated by Naylor after completing his second term in office. Hailing from Edgeworthstown in County Longford, Harper boasts three decades of involvement in motorsport, starting at grassroots level with his local club, Midland Motor Club. Harper has been actively engaged in promoting safety within motorsport throughout his career, serving as an integral member of the Rallies Commission and Chair of the Safety Commission. 

He also holds a position on the FIA Road Closed Commission and has officiated at numerous events both domestically and internationally. With a wealth of experience and a deep-rooted passion for motorsport, Harper has vowed to steer the organisation towards a brighter future, emphasising collaboration, innovation and growth. Naylor will shift his focus to his role as president of the FIA Historic Motor Sport Commission, which he assumed in December 2020. After taking over from Paolo Cantarella, Naylor will continue his contributions to the motorsport community, leveraging his expertise and experience in his new position.