With four junior rally champions have secured automatic nominations for the 2019 Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver Award.
One more will be decided in Bantry this weekend as a trio of drivers will fight it out for Class 16A honours at the final round of the Triton Showers Irish National Rally Championship.
Brian Brady secured his nomination by virtue of winning the inaugural Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series, a dual surface championship for class 16 cars only.
Partnered by Gary McNamee, Brady took four wins on his way to the crown. This will be the second time the 24-year-old driver from Kells in Co.Meath has been nominated for the award, having won the junior section of the Irish National Rally Championship in 2017.
Another driver to be nominated for the second time is Monaghan’s Derek Mackarel who took class 16A honours in the 2019 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship.
23-year-old Mackarel took a hat-trick of wins, switching from his Vauxhall Nova to an Opel Adam R2 for the final round of the championship in Cork.
Mackarel is also a member of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and has taken part in their three development days this year, which afforded him the opportunity to test an R5 car.
Class 16 in the forestry series was eventually claimed by Shane Kenneally. The Honda mounted driver, who narrowly lost out to Brian Brady in the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series, triumphed on the final round of the forestry championship in Fermanagh to wrap up the class.
Partnered by Jer Connors, Kenneally, aged 23 from Dungarvan in Co Waterford, has been competing since 2014 when he started out in a 1300 cc Mark 2 Ford Escort.
A regular Border Rally Championship competitor, Leitrim’s Stephen Reynolds stepped up to the Triton Showers Irish National Rally Championship for 2019, and even with the final round of the series still to play out, he has claimed the class 16 crown with four maximum scores throughout the season in his distinctive orange Honda Civic.
Reynolds is the first nominee from Connacht since Dean Raftery and Cormac Phelan were nominated for the award in 2014.
These nominees join the January-April nominee, Josh McErlean and the May-July nominee, William Creighton, with this weekend’s Fastnet Rally to decide the 16A winner of the Irish National Rally Championship as Colin O’Donoghue, Nigel Roche and David Kelly fight it out for the final automatic nomination.
There is also the opportunity of a single wildcard selection, which means that along with the August-October nominee, up to nine drivers may be nominated for the award in 2019.
The winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year Award will now receive €100,000 worth of support to contest rallies nationally & internationally in 2020.
Coupled with Sport Ireland and Motorsport Ireland’s €50,000 investment, a further €50,000 has been pledged by the Team Ireland Foundation.
The award winner will also receive the assistance of Billy Coleman co-ordinator, Sean McHugh.
Additional support from the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy as part of a training and development plan to further the winner’s career will also be available and the winner may apply for funding for a second year of support upon satisfactory performances in their award winning year.
Both of the award runners up will receive support to compete in stage rallies at home and abroad up to an amount of €15,000 each.