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 Leinster Trophy 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. Enda Sherry 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 the 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
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 Kadet 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