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2012 Billy Coleman Award

Posted: January 17, 2013 6:36 PM - 10492 Hits

Video: Daniel McKenna

Posted: January 17, 2013 6:36 PM

Daniel McKenna - Billy Coleman Award / Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards

Posted: December 11, 2012 4:06 PM

Craig Breen was named Driver of the Year today at the Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards in Dublin. Breen secured his second successive world title last month when he won the S2000 category of the World Rally Championship following his victory in the WRC Academy in 2011.

Breen was presented with the Manley Memorial Trophy at the ceremony today and reflected on what has been a hugely successful but also emotional year after he lost his best friend and co-driver, Gareth Roberts, during a tragic accident in June.
“Winning this trophy twelve months ago was a huge privilege and now to win it for a second time is unbelievable. It has been a difficult year but to finally secure the championship (SWRC) in Spain was justification of my decision to continue. I want to thank Motorsport Ireland and particularly Joe Corcoran, Alex Sinclair and James Coleman for their support throughout the year."

"In the aftermath of the accident it took some time to decide on my next step but after making the decision to continue, I knew it was the correct one. I love every minute of what I do and it's times like this that I can look back on in years to come. The second half of the season has been difficult at times but to come back and win three rounds out of four in the SWRC has been very rewarding. I want to again thank everyone who supported me, it would not have been possible without you," Breen said.

The Billy Coleman award for the Young Rally Driver of the Year went to Monaghan’s Daniel McKenna ahead of runners up Dean Raftery and Stephen Wright. McKenna is one of Ireland’s best young drivers and was a runner up himself in the award last year. This year McKenna put in some excellent performances which included victories at the Monaghan Stages Rally and Midland Moto Rally during the season. McKenna will now receive €50,000 worth of support for the 2013 season where he hopes to compete in the British Rally Championship.

The Dunlop Sexton Trophy for the Young Racing Driver of the Year was awarded to Kevin O’Hara ahead of runners up Stephen Daly and Jake Byrne. The Kildare driver excelled this year in his Formula Vee car becoming the first driver to break the 1min lap time in a Formula Vee car at Mondello Park. The 22-year-old also went on to take the LeinsterTrophy for 2012 in the Vee race at Mondello Park. He will now go on to compete in the Formula Ford 1600 series in 2013 in the newly commissioned Motorsport Ireland Formula Ford car, with support from Dunlop and the Irish Sports Council.

Irish National Rally champion Brian O’Mahony was awarded the Vard Memorial Trophy along with co-driver John Higgins, who received the Noel Smith Memorial trophy, for their Dunlop National Rally Championship victory. EndaSherry was also in attendance to receive his and Darren Gass’ award as the Tarmac Rally Champions from this year.

The Ivan Webb Memorial award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Irish Motorsport went to Eoin Longworth from Birr and District Motor Club who has been an integral part of the Irish motorsport community for the past 20 years. The JC Millard Memorial Award for Clubman of the Year went to Paul Kiely from the Connacht Motor Club for his contribution both on and off the roads as a competitor winning several national rally titles and an organiser who is integral to the Sligo Stages Rally and inputs nationally to the Dunlop Rally Championship.

Joe Corcoran, President of Motorsport Ireland, said;
“2012 has been an excellent year for Irish motorsport across all the disciplines. We have seen three Irish world champions crowned over the past month or so and we have also seen many of our drivers succeeding nationally and internationally, which is hugely encouraging. While the economic climate has made it increasingly difficult to compete we are doing all we can to support Motorsport in Ireland and if we can continue the way we are going we will see more World champions in the future.”

Motorsport Ireland Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards Winners:

    International Driver of the Year Award – Craig Breen
    Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year – Daniel McKenna
    Dunlop Sexton Young Racing Driver of the Year – Kevin O’Hara
    Dunlop National Stage Rally Champion Driver – Brian O’Mahony
    Dunlop National Stage Rally Champion Navigator – John Higgins
    National Forestry Rally Champion Driver – Garry Jennings
    National Forestry Rally Champion Navigator – Arthur Kierans
    National Navigation Trial Champion Driver – Michael Carbin
    National Navigation Trial Champion Navigator – Evin Hughes
    Tarmac Rally Organisers Association Champions – Darren Gass & Enda Sherry

    National Rallycross Champion – George Tracey
    National Autocross Saloon Champion – Gerard T. Brennan
    National Autocross Special Champion – David Fallon
    National Autotest Champion – Steven Ferguson
    National Hillclimb / Sprint Champion – Sylvie Mullins
    Clubman of the Year Award – Paul Kiely

    National Racing Champion – Lee Newsome

    National Kart Champion (Formula Rotax 125 Max Class) – Shane Daly
    National Kart Champion (KF3 Class) – Odhran Henry
    National Cadet Class Champion – Aaron O’Rourke
    National KZ2 Class Champion – James O’Keeffe
    National Super 4 Class Champion – Conor McCabe

    Most Outstanding Contribution to Irish Motorsport – Eoin Longworth

Motorsport Ireland announce 3 Billy Coleman Award Finalists

Posted: November 18, 2012 10:25 PM

Motorsport Ireland has announced the three finalists for the Billy Coleman Award for Ireland’s Young Rally Driver of the Year.

The drivers who will go forward to the Motorsport Ireland Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards on the 11th December are Dean Raftery, Daniel McKenna and Stephen Wright, where one will receive the Billy Coleman award for Young Rally Driver of the Year.

Dean Raftery from Galway was selected as a wildcard in the process for his impressive performances in 2012 as a relative newcomer to rallying. The 21-year-old only began rallying in 2011 and this year he won the Bushwhacker Rally and also became the Irish Junior Forest Champion in his first full season.

The second finalist is Daniel McKenna, a runner up for the award in 2011. The Monaghan driver won the Monaghan Stages Rally this year and also put in an impressive performance at the Galway International Rally among others across the season in his Mark 2 Ford Escort.

Stephen Wright from Monaghan is the final contender for this year’s Billy Coleman Award. The 23-year-old finished first in class in the Valvoline Irish Forest Championship and fourth overall to cap an impressive year.

The winner of the Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year will receive €50,000 worth of support to compete in stage rallies nationally and internationally in 2013 along with mentoring from Billy Coleman coordinator Tom Walsh. The two runners up will also be mentored by Tom Walsh for the year while receiving free entry into a number of MI permitted events in 2013.

Some of the previous winners of the Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award include Gareth McHale, Keith Cronin and Craig Breen. Cronin became only the fourth person in history to win three British Rally Championships earlier this year, while Craig Breen recently won the Super 2000 category in the World Rally Championship, following up his WRC Academy win in 2011.

The Motorsport Ireland Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards will take place on Tuesday 11th December at the Hilton Hotel, Malahide Road, Dublin.

Young Rally Driver of the Year Finalists are Announced

Posted: November 7, 2012 1:52 PM

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.

Damien McCarthy - May-June Nomination

Posted: October 4, 2012 12:16 PM

Damien McCarthy has been nominated for the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award following his performances in May and June this year.

The 26 year-old from Timoleague, Co Cork drove his 1600 cc Honda Civic to a tremendous fourth place overall in the Carrick- on-Suir MC Raven’s Rock Rally, behind three much more powerful cars, easily winning his class. Earlier in the year, he surprised many by taking third place overall in the two day West Cork Rally, also behind two much faster cars, and again dominated his class. In the same event in 2011, he managed fifth place, with the customary class win.

For the remainder of this year, Damien plans to contest the Skibbereen Fastnet Rally at the end of October, where he will no doubt once again embarrass many others with potentially faster machinery. He would like to do some of the British Rally Championship rounds in 2013, but this depends on the availability of sponsorship.

Damien works as a motor engineer in Ardgehane Motors, Clonakilty, who are also one his sponsors, along with Hayes Cabins of Clonakilty and Plasticbags.ie.

The award has been revamped this year with five bi-monthly winners selected from January / February, through to September / October, joined by the winner of the Junior Championship in the Dunlop National Championship, the highest placed eligible driver from the Valvoline National Forestry Championship, and a wildcard selection, in the award finalists.

The winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year receives €50,000 worth of support to compete in stage rallies nationally & internationally in 2013 along with the support of Billy Coleman co-ordinator, Tom Walsh, while the two runners up will receive free entry into a number of MI permitted events in 2013 as well as co-ordinator support.

O'Connor gains Young Rally Driver of the Year nomination

Posted: June 7, 2012 4:32 PM

Kevin O'Connor has been nominated for the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award following his performances in March and April this year.

The Askeaton, Co Limerick driver scored class wins in both the West Cork Rally in March and the Circuit of Ireland International at Easter, followed by 2nd place in class in the International Rally of the Lakes in Killarney. He leads the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland after the first three rounds and plans to complete the lucrative series.

Kevin reached the interview stage of the Billy Coleman Award in 2009, at the age of 19, when he drove a Peugeot 205, winning his class in the National Junior Rally Championship. The following year, he was runner up in the Junior section of the Dunlop National Rally Championship at the wheel of a Citroen C2R2 and again qualified for interview.

For 2011, he stayed with the same car, but it suffered from some reliability problems and he was forced to retire from several rallies. This year, the 22 year old has switched to the more powerful C2 Max version of the Citroen and is having his most successful year to date.

The young driver hopes to contest the British Rally Championship in 2013 and would like to graduate to the FIA World Rally Championship Academy in 2014.

Kevin is currently in his final year of Automation & Control Technology studies at Limerick Institute of Technology

He is sponsored by Dan Mulcahy Motor Factors, Newcastle West and O'Farrell Bus & Tyres, Shanagolden.

The award has been revamped this year with five bi-monthly winners selected from January / February, through to September / October, joined by the winner of the Junior Championship in the Dunlop National Championship, the highest placed eligible driver from the Valvoline National Forestry Championship, and a wildcard selection, in the award finalists.

The winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year receives '50,000 worth of support to compete in stage rallies nationally & internationally in 2013 along with the support of Billy Coleman co-ordinator, Tom Walsh, while the two runners up will receive free entry into a number of MI permitted events in 2013 along with co-ordinator support.

McKenna gains Young Rally Driver of the Year nomination

Posted: March 28, 2012 12:15 PM

Daniel McKenna has been nominated for the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award following his performances in January and February this year.

The Monaghan driver was runner up for the award in 2011 but will be hoping to go one further this year after his impressive start to 2012. The most impressive of these came at the Galway International Rally in January. McKenna led the National event after four stages before a slide dropped him down the standings. However he went on to set fastest times on four of the remaining five stages to pull himself back into fourth position. Last weekend the 24-year-old was in excellent form again as he won the Midland Moto Rally in Roscommon.

McKenna got into rallying through his father Eamonn and navigated for him until he was able to gain his licence to drive in 2005. Since then he has established himself as one of the most exciting young rally drivers in the country as he won the National section of the Galway International Rally in 2010 and the National section of the Donegal International Rally in 2011 whilst also being selected for the Pirelli Shootout in 2010.

The young driver is hoping to compete in the remaining rounds of the Border Stages Championship this year along with some rounds of the Irish Tarmac Championship and the Ulster International Rally but is hoping to get a shot at the British Rally Championship in the near future.

The award has been revamped this year with five bi monthly winners selected from January / February, through to September / October joined by the winner of Junior Championship in Dunlop National Championship, highest placed eligible from the Valvoline National Forestry Championship and a wildcard selection in the award finalists.

The winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year receives €50,000 worth of support to compete in stage rallies nationally & internationally in 2013 along with the support of Billy Coleman co-ordinator, Tom Walsh, while the two runners up will receive free entry into a number of MI permitted events in 2013 along with co-ordinator support.

Motorsport Ireland revamp award for Ireland's best young Rally Drivers

Posted: February 9, 2012 12:29 PM

Motorsport Ireland has today announced details of its revamped Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year Award for 2012.

The award has been handed down to some of Ireland's top drivers in recent years including Gareth McHale, Keith Cronin and Craig Breen. It was established in 2000 to help young Irish rally drivers take the step up to international rallying, following in the footsteps of the famous Billy Coleman.

The new criteria will see Motorsport Ireland select five bi monthly winners of a Young Rally Driver Award beginning for January and February and finishing with an award for September and October all of whom must be under 26 years old. These five winners will then be joined by the winner of the Junior Championship in the Dunlop National Championship, the highest placed eligible driver from the National Forestry Championship and a wildcard selection.

The award, which is supported by the Irish Sports Council, will then be decided between those 8 drivers by a Motorsport Ireland panel with the winner receiving ?50,000 worth of support to compete in stage rallies nationally and internationally along with the support of a Billy Coleman Award coordinator to guide them during the year.

The two runners up will both receive a number of free entries in Motorsport Ireland permitted events in the following year along with the mentoring of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman coordinator, who will be Tom Walsh for 2012. Walsh believes this will be a huge boost to young rally drivers across the country;
"The changes we have made to the Young Rally Driver of the Year Award will now mean that we will see a better sample representation of Ireland's best young drivers at the selection process stage. It gives young drivers five opportunities to impress throughout the year in the hope of selection for the award at the end of the year," he said.

"This award is crucial for young drivers in the current climate. With finances so tough it is vital that we support the talent that is there and this award gives them the financial support to compete at a higher level and realise that talent. We have seen that with the likes of Keith Cronin and more recently Craig Breen, so let's hope this will continue", Walsh went on to say.

For more information on the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year Award see






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