Brady switches focus to prepare for Billy Coleman award interviews

A young crew from Westmeath Motor Club didn’t mind too much that they didn’t finish their last rally, as the driver has a much bigger prize to focus on – the Billy Coleman Award.

Brian Brady and his co-driver Leonard Tuite were competing in the Lakeland Stages rally in Fermanagh on Saturday September 7 in the hope of adding the Irish Junior Forestry Championship to the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series Brian has already won this season.

The forestry title wasn’t his main focus for 2019, but Brian found himself in contention for it as a number of the rallies he has done this season offered points for it as well as for the title he was chasing.

Brian explains: “It wasn’t the plan at the start of the year, but because of the overlapping rounds, we were in contention at the end of the year. So we went to Enniskillen for the Lakeland Stages, and we had to win [in category] to take the championship.”

Brian and Leonard started well, but went off into a ditch on stage four, and though their Honda Civic will require repairs before its next outing, it was stuck for the day and they had to retire.

“We were nine seconds behind the category leader in second place at that point,” said Brian, “but a rut in the road caught us out. I think something bent, and that put us in the ditch.

"As it happens Shane Kenneally [category leader] also retired on the same stage when his engine gave up.”

Brian wasn’t overly disappointed with the outcome, as his success, with co-driver Gary McNamee, in the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series earned him a nomination for the Billy Coleman Award, which has a value of €100,000.

(The first winner of the award, in 2000, was also an Oldcastle man, the late Rory Galligan.)

Brian secured the junior championship on the two-day Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally in July. The Mallow event was a dual surface double header as rounds 6 and 7, and the 24-year-old took maximum points on both days, enough to make him the inaugural winner of the series, with four maximum scores, and one round remaining.

He adds that to the National Junior Rally Championship he won with Leonard, in 2017, the prize for which included a trip to this year’s Rally Finland as VIP guests of the Toyota World Rally team (sponsored by Kelly Toyota in Donegal).

Having enjoyed that, Brian now switches his attention first to the Cork 20 rally at the end of September in a fully modified version of his Honda Civic, complete with a 2.0 litre engine, and then the rigorous interview for the Billy Coleman Award.

There is tight competition for the annual award, but Brian has already won €20,000 this year, and plans to use it to rally abroad next year.

If he wins the additional €100k with the Coleman award, he aims to gain more international experience next year, at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R2.

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