First Kerry Winner Of The Billy Coleman Award

Robert DugganThe winners of the Dunlop Sexton Trophy, the prestigious Billy Coleman Award and the International Driver of the Year have been announced at the Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Awards Ceremony in Dublin today. The Billy Coleman Award for the Young Rally Driver of the Year went to 22-year-old Kerry native, Robert Duggan, who narrowly beat runners up Josh Moffett and Patrick O’Brien to the title. Robert received his nomination on the back of strong drives in May and June which saw him win the junior sections of the Killarney and Donegal Internationals. Following on from that, he was also crowned as the inaugural CFR2 Champion in Northern Ireland gaining him a prize drive in Wales Rally GB, the final round of the 2015 World Rally Championship. At the Circuit of Ireland, which was also a round of the European Rally Championship, Duggan showed he had the pace to match the best that Europe has to offer as he went on to win his class while coming 4th in the overall National Rally. Duggan was also a finalist for the young rally driver of the year award in 2013. As the winner he will now receive €50,000 worth of support for the 2015 season when he intends to compete in the Fiesta Trophy in the World Rally Championship. Speaking at the awards ceremony in Dublin today, Duggan said: “I am thrilled to have won the Billy Coleman Award this year. Having narrowly missed out twice before, I was determined that I would do everything I could in 2015 to get my name on the trophy. I have worked hard to achieve the goals I set myself at the start of 2015 and this award is the culmination of my efforts and those of the team that support me.” “Ultimately I want to take on the best in the World Rally Championship and the international recognition that comes with winning the Billy Coleman will help me get there. I look forward to receiving the support and mentoring that comes as part of the award that has helped the likes of previous winners Craig Breen, Keith Cronin and Daniel McKenna make their mark on the world and European stages.” The Dunlop Sexton Trophy for Young Racing Driver of the Year was awarded to Jake Byrne, from Blackwood, near Naas, Co Kildare, ahead of runners up James Roe and Jordan Dempsey. Byrne, who turned 21 this year, completely dominated the Formula Ford class at Kirkistown, winning eight races on his way to taking the Northern Ireland Formula Ford title. Throughout the season the Kildare driver also impressed in the British National Championship, producing a number of impressive drives. Byrne is a final year student in Trinity College Dublin, where he is studying Mechanical Engineering. The Manley Memorial Trophy for the International Driver of the Year went to Jonny McMullan, from Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim. The award is presented to an Irish competitor from the 32 counties who has not only proven to be a success on the track but also has acted as a positive role model and ambassador for the sport. Jonny joins a long list of previous winners that includes luminaries in the motorsport world such as Matt Griffin, Austin MacHale, Eddie Irvine and Derek Tohill to name but a few. Jonny McMullan, who won the Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year award in 2014, has enjoyed a marvellous season, with victories in the British National Formula Ford 1600 and BRSCC Triple Crown Championships, and also in the prestigious Vivion Daly Trophy. During 2015, he secured an unprecedented 17 pole position starts, 10 race wins and a staggering 21 podiums. Jonny said: “This award carries with it a great responsibility and is as big an incentive as I have ever had to continue to strive to win more in the future. After winning the Sexton Trophy last year, I was extremely excited about driving the Motorsport Ireland Van Diemen in 2015 and we’ve had an absolutely brilliant year. I couldn’t have done it without the team that was put behind me, Sport Ireland and of course the support of my family. It is an honour to be recognised amongst some of the greats of Irish Motorsport and I intend to acknowledge this by continuing to be the best I can. I can’t wait for the next season to start.” Motorsport Ireland honoured all their National Champions at the lunch as well as individuals who have contributed to the sport throughout the year. The Ivan Webb Memorial Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Irish Motorsport went to Frank O’Donoghue, from Clonsilla, Dublin, who has been an integral part of the Irish motorsport community for many years. The JC Millard Memorial Award for Clubman of the Year went to Frank Nuttall, from Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, for his contribution to the sport. Speaking at the awards, Motorsport Ireland President Martin McKenna said: “These awards showcase the very best of the incredible talent we have at present in our motorsport community. Together with our partners in Sport Ireland and Dunlop we are delighted to provide this fantastic platform to showcase the talents to our budding young competitors. In order to keep this progress going we have started a process of engagement with all levels of our great sport to see how we can improve motorsport in Ireland for all our competitors and supporters. Over the coming year you will start to see some changes that we are sure will be welcomed by everyone. “Sometimes our drivers‘ successes go unrecognised at home yet they can be household names amongst the motorsport faithful across the world. The awards presented today offer our drivers an acknowledgement of their achievements and we all hope that we will see more like these emerging in the future.”