The annual awards usually throw up a few surprises but there was an air of predictability at yesterday’s Dunlop Ireland Champions of Motorsport Awards ceremony at the Hilton Dublin Airport Hotel.
Monaghan’s Daniel McKenna and Kildare’s Kevin O’Hara were crowned Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year and the Dunlop Young Racing Driver of the Year respectively while the International Driver of the Year award was won for the second year in succession by Waterford’s Craig Breen.
McKenna, from Scotstown, a runner up last year, scooped the €50,000 award and was delighted with his success.
“The plan is to do the British Rally Championship in a Citroen DS3 and hopefully, follow in Keith Cronin’s footsteps,” he said.
“With the budget we can add to this, we can do the whole championship, five rounds in the Citroen and hopefully the other two rounds in a Fiesta R2 so as to be eligible for the Pirelli Star Drive award. The plan is to try and win the British series within the next few years.”
McKenna began his career co-driving for his father, Eamonn, in 2003 but progressed to driving once he acquired his road traffic licence in 2005.
Meanwhile, O’Hara from Donadea, was selected for his performances during May where he won the first Formula Vee race and finished a close second in the final in Kirkistown.
O’Hara will be provided with a car to contest the Irish and British Formula Ford Championship and will be overseen by Bernard Dunne and Mick Merrigan.
Having won the S2000 category of the WRC, Craig Breen was a popular winner of the International Driver of the Year.
Breen picked up his second S2000 world rally title in November just five months after enduring the loss of his co-driver and great friend Gareth Roberts in a rallying accident while competing in Sicily.
Meanwhile, other champions that were honoured yesterday were Brian O’Mahony/John Higgins (Dunlop National Rally Champions). The Carrigaline driver was the first Cork driver to win the national series since 1971. Fermanagh’s Garry Jennings, who won the Valvoline National Forestry Rally Championship in his Subaru 555, had no regular co-driver so the top co-driver award was won by Arthur Kierans.
Dunlop Ireland Champions of Irish Motorsport 2012 winners:
Young Rally Driver: Daniel McKenna; Young Racing Driver: Kevin O’Hara; International Driver: Craig Breen; Dunlop National Rally: Brian O’Mahony/John Higgins; National Forestry Rally: Garry Jennings/Arthur Kierans; National Navigation Trial: Michael Carbin/Evin Hughes; Irish Tarmac Rally: Darren Gass/Enda Sherry; National Rallycross: George Tracey; National Autocross Saloon: Gerard T Brennan; National Autocross Special: David Fallon; National Autotest: Steven Ferguson; National Hillclimb/Sprint: Sylvie Mullins; Clubman of the Year: Paul Kiely; National Racing: Lee Newsome; National Kart (Formula Rotax 125 Max Class): Shane Daly; National Kart (KF3 Class): Odhrán Henry; National Kadet Class: Aaron O’Rourke; National KZ2 Class: James O’Keeffe; National Super 4 Class: Conor McCabe; Most Outstanding Contribution to Irish Motorsport: Eoin Longworth.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved