MI Young Driver Murray may face 6 month ban!
January 2, 2014 by The Irish Daily Star (John Kenny)
Motorsport Ireland have been asked by the Motorsport Association (MSA), the governing body of British Motorsport, to impose a six month suspension on Niall Murray, the newly crowned Dunlop/Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the year. The 18 year old was crowned the 2013 Young Racing Driver of the Year earlier this month (December), an award which carries with it a motorsport prize package of €50,000 to further his career. Previous recipients of the accolade include Peter Dempsey, who is expected to compete in Indy Cars in the USA in 2014 and Niall’s brother Eoin who won the Young Driver award twice on his way to winning the European Alfa Romeo championship. Niall Murray won the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch at the end of October in his first season in the highly competitive single seater class and coupled with a decent Formula Ford campaign in Ireland, the Dubliner was then was awarded the Young Driver accolade, which is backed by both Irish Dunlop and the Irish Sports Council as well as Motorsport Ireland. However in recent weeks it came to light that the teenager, who races under his father Joe’s Murray Motorsport banner, was investigated for allegedly passing other competitors under a yellow flag during the Formula Ford Festival Final. Murray was cleared of any wrong doing during the race by an MSA hearing on the 16th of December, but they subsequently stated that he allegedly failed to produce footage from the camera on his car when requested to do so by the Clerk of the Course at Brands Hatch. According to some reports, the MSA then imposed a six month ban on Murray as a result. However the UK governing body cannot impose a suspension on an Irish licence holder and they have now in turn recommended that Motorsport Ireland, who issues Murray with his motor racing licence, impose a 6 month suspension themselves. “As the MSA don’t have the power to suspend a Motorsport Ireland licence holder, they have recommended that we impose the suspension ourselves” said Alex Sinclair CEO of Motorsport Ireland. “However we want the principals of natural justice to prevail and we will be setting up our own court of inquiry headed by our president Joe Corcoran within the next 21 days. We will decide the actual date after making contact with Niall Murray”
Motorsport Ireland has reciprocal arrangements in many regards with the MSA and it will be interesting to see now if they back the MSA’s recommendation at that upcoming inquiry. Any potential suspension will be of major concern to the Irish Sports Council who back the Young Driver of the Year award along with Dunlop, as well as the Young Rally Driver of the year recipient to the collective tune of €100,000 in prize packages. “If a driver who wins the Young Driver Award isn’t competing for the first six months of the year, it certainly wouldn’t be ideal, said Paul McDermott, spokesperson for the Irish Sport Council. “Irish sports council are not aware of the ins and outs of the case
and until we do so, we won’t be making any further comment. However, we will be contacting Motorsport Ireland to decide on any course of action.” Murray Motorsport have released its own statement to the Irish Daily Star which states that “While the car was in Parc Ferme Eoin Murray (Niall’s brother) was asked to bring the camera to Race Control” According to the statement, it was brought to the Clerk of the Course who “failed to obtain footage from the camera – no action was taken, no further requests were made and no protest was lodged”.
“Immediately after the race Niall went to the podium for presentations and interviews etc and was not informed by the organisers of any issue and was unaware of any request made for his camera or footage.” The statement goes on to say that when Murray returned to the paddock and was told the issue surrounding the camera he “got the camera to work”. The team then apparently brought it to Wayne Boyd (runner up at the Festival) and his team and showed them the footage to reassure them that there were no yellow flag infringements. “At this stage it was approx 7 pm and race control was in darkness and we left to catch a flight. As far as we were aware there was no obligation on us to do anything further, we had given the camera to the organisers as requested but they had failed to replay the footage. The organisers had our contact details but made no contact with us. They did not at any time inform Niall, the driver and entrant, of any residual issues” the statement adds. As of now however, as Murray faces into the Motorsport Ireland court of inquiry, he is currently not suspended from competing in any forms of motorsport and the ball is now well and truly in the hands of Irish motorsports governing body.
John Kenny (The Daily STAR)