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Northern lights shine bright at Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards
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  Three of the winners of Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards 2018, left to right, Charlie Eastwood, Jordan Dempsey and James Wilson.  (photo by Michael Chester)  
Three of the winners of Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards 2018, left to right, Charlie Eastwood, Jordan Dempsey and James Wilson. (photo by Michael Chester)
Friday, December 07, 2018
Northern lights shone brightest at the Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards this week when young drivers from Belfast and Co Armagh landed two of the sport’s most prestigious honours. James Wilson (24) was named Young Rally Driver of the Year, while 23-year-old Charlie Eastwood, a runner up in 2017, went one better this year by winning the Young Racing Driver of the Year award.

The ceremony was held in the Mansion House in Dublin. Both drivers will receive €50,000 in funding and support for the development of their careers during the 2019 season. The International Driver of the Year award went to Jordan Dempsey, from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

The event, to celebrate the success of the most talented drivers in Irish Motorsport in 2018, was attended by Mr. Ronnie McBrien, Sport Ireland, Mr. John Naylor, President of Motorsport Ireland, members of the media, award recipients and their guests. More than 30 trophies were presented at the Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards to Irish drivers competing both domestically and internationally.

The Billy Coleman Award for the Young Rally Driver of the Year was won by 24-year-old James Wilson, from Co Armagh. He was nominated for his performances in January and February of this year and went on to further successes throughout the season. James was the 2018 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Junior Rally Champion and also secured a podium finish in the Junior British Rally Championship on the Ypres Rally in Belgium.
 
The Sexton Trophy for Young Racing Driver of the Year was awarded to 23-year-old Charlie Eastwood, from Belfast. Charlie was a previous runner and has been competing in the GTE Am class of the FIA World Endurance Championship driving an Aston Martin. He has impressively achieved three second places from three races in his debut year and is on track to add to his World Karting and Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship titles by the time the series finishes at the Le Mans 24hour in June 2019.

The Manley Memorial Trophy for the International Driver of the Year went to Jordan Dempsey, from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. Competing at a top international level for the first time he has joined a very exclusive club, becoming one of only a small number of Irish competitors to win an FIA Championship, having secured outright honours in the FIA F4 Chinese Championship in his debut year. Jordan joins luminaries such as Craig Breen, four-time British Rally Champion Keith Cronin, Le Mans series driver Matt Griffin, Rallying legend Austin MacHale, Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine, and multiple European Rallycross class champion Derek Tohill as a winner of the Manley Memorial Trophy.

The Neil Shanahan Memorial Trophy was awarded to the 13-year-old Karl O’Brien, from Robertstown, Co Kildare, who was crowned 2018 Motorsport Ireland National Junior Karting Champion. Karl won four races and finished second three times on his way to winning the Iame X30 Junior title.

In other awards, the FIA Celtic Trophy was won overall by Josh Moffett/ Andy Hayes, the Ivan Webb Memorial Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Irish Motorsport went to Gerry O’Brien and the JC Millard Memorial Award for Clubman of the Year went to Kevin Barrett, from Maynooth.