Young Rally Driver of the Year Finalists are Announced
November 7, 2012 by Declan Lee
Motorsport Ireland has announced the eight nominees for this year’s Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award.
The eight nominees comprise of the five bi-monthly winners from January / February through to September / October along with one wildcard and the highest placed driver from the Valvoline National Forest Championship and finally the winner of the junior category in the Dunlop National Rally Championship.
Daniel McKenna was the first name on the list as he secured the January / February nomination after an impressive outing at the Galway International Rally, followed by a victory at the Midland Moto Rally in Roscommon.
The March / April nomination went to Limerick driver Kevin O’Connor. O’Connor secured class wins at the West Cork Rally and the Circuit of Ireland Rally along with second in his class at the Killarney International Rally of the Lakes over the two months.
In May / June the outstanding young rally driver was Cork’s Damien McCarthy. The 26-year-old’s standout performance was at the Carrick-On-Suir Raven’s Rock Rally where he finished fourth overall and won his class.
A well known Irish rally family was to see its next generation flourish in July / August to take the nomination. Shane Maguire, son of three-time Dunlop National Rally Champion Niall, was selected after he won the Sligo Stages Rally. The 23-year-old also finished 7th overall in the Tipperary Stages Rally and came second in the Group N class.
The final bi-monthly nomination for September / October was Stephen Wright. Wright took the nomination for his impressive performances in the final rounds of the Valvoline National Forest Championship, where he finished fourth overall.
The wildcard for the award was given to Galway’s Dean Raftery who had an impressive season in the National Forest Championship, where he took the junior title.
The line-up of eight nominees is completed by Monaghan’s Vincent McAree, the highest placed driver within the criteria in the Valvoline National Forest Championship and Bernard Foley from Cork, who won the junior category of the Dunlop National Rally Championship.
All eight nominees will be interviewed by an independent panel with the list being narrowed to three finalists. The winner of this year’s Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year will then be announced at the Motorsport Ireland Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards on the 11th December.
The winner will receive €50,000 worth of funding to compete in stage rallies nationally and internationally in 2013. The two runners up will receive free entry into a number of Motorsport Ireland permitted events during 2013. All three finalists will also receive the benefit of advice and assistance from Tom Walsh, Co-ordinator for the Billy Coleman Award. Tom has been involved in the management and mentoring of young rally drivers in International competition for many years and has also acted as Clerk of the Course for Rally Ireland.