Northern lights shone brightest at the Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards on Tuesday, when young drivers from Belfast and Armagh landed two of the sport’s most prestigious honours.
However, the Manley Memorial Trophy for the International Driver of the Year went has been won by Mullingar man Jordan Dempsey.
Dempsey, who won the Sexton Trophy in 2017, has lived up to the expectations that the sport has of a recipient of the award. 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.
Throughout the 2018 season he was rarely off the front row of the grid or the podium, and despite missing out on the opening race, his phenomenal talent saw him securing the championship with a race to spare.
The winner of this award is selected by the motor sport media and is presented to an Irish competitor from the 32 counties who has not only proven to be a success in competition but also has acted as a positive role model and ambassador for the sport.
Dempsey 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.
Meanwhile, 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, at a ceremony 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 Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards, 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 event to Irish drivers competing both domestically and internationally. The highlight of the event was the presentation of the prestigious Billy Coleman Award, the Sexton Trophy and the International Driver of the Year award.