Brian Brady Secures 2019 Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series

Brian Brady is the 2019 Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series champion after a dominant performance on the two day Jim Walsh Cork Forestry Rally. The Mallow based event was a dual surface championship double header as rounds 6 and 7. Brady bagged maximum points on each day to make it four from four top scores in a row, this was enough to leapfrog Shane Kenneally and put the Meath man in an uncatchable position with one round still remaining.

Shane Kenneally was the quickest man over the finish line on SS1 but Brady quickly reeled him in on SS2 and held that lead all the way to the finish of day one. A second place finish on the opening day for Kenneally was enough to keep the championship fight going into day two but when he slid his Honda Civic off the road midway through Sunday, his hopes of a bringing the fight to the last round in Galway hung on Brady making it to the end, but alas they also slid away when Brady crossed the finish line, dropping the Waterford driver to second place overall in the championship. While Kenneally can no longer catch Brady when dropped scores are taken into account he can take solace in the fact that he can also, no longer be caught and has wrapped up second place and a share of the prize fund with the battle for third place now a shootout between three drivers.

Jason Murphy still holds third place despite mechanical issues on the first day in Cork which seen him rejoin under Rally 2 and score points, and a spirited recovery on Sunday had him come away with what could be a very valuable 7 points for third place, when the final round plays out at his local event, the Galway Summer Rally. Gareth Deazley can also look to Galway with a chance of third, despite a slow start in day one of Cork which seen him take away fourth place points, a much better push on day two and capitalising on Kenneally’s non finish netted second place points for the man from Omagh.  A hapless weekend for Ruairi Mac Artain had him thinking what might have been. A solid Saturday scored him third place points and after setting fastest class time on Sunday morning suspension woes followed by brake issues later  in the day left him limping through the remaining stages to come away with fourth place points, despite this he’s still in contention with finishing third if results went his way in Galway.

“It’s fantastic to win it,” said Brady, “ Junior Rallying has been quiet in Ireland the last few years, although it has been very competitive, when I see the work that Motorsport Ireland has put in and implementing the Junior Rally Series this year I wanted to show my efforts of what Junior Rallying means to me. I had a very strong and competitive 11F car and by meeting the Class 16 (J1600) regulations, not only was it a lot of work but it meant going slower which didn’t bother me at all, having never done forestry before taking three maximum scores meant a lot. The Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series is the exact championship we need to push young drivers  to compete in and I have said this to many people that have asked me, It’s very easy to be quick on tar or gravel but to be quick on both is a skill in itself! I’m looking forward to sitting down with Sean McHugh, John Quill and hopefully John Coyne later this year to see what path 2020 will take for me”.

The Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series is part of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy initiative, set up to promote and assist competitors (under 25 years of age using J1600 cars) focused on developing their motorsport future. A prize fund of training, coaching and support up to the value of €20,000 is on offer for the top three drivers plus a nomination to the Billy Coleman Award for the winner.

Brady will now join the 3 qualifiers selected from the following monthly groupings; January-April        (Josh McErlean), May-July and August-October. These nominees will be joined by the highest placed eligible drivers from both the Junior sections in the Triton Showers National series and the Valvoline National Forestry Championship in both class 16 and 16A, and a wildcard selection, meaning that up to nine drivers may be nominated for the award in 2019.

For James Wilson the opportunities that winning the 2018 Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award has brought in 2019 are magnificent! As the first winner of the expanded Coleman Award programme, James’s prize is worth up to a staggering €100,000.

Firstly it has aided James and his co-driver Arthur Kierans with running the British Rally Championship campaign in the Peugeot 208 R2. However the formation of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy has allowed further driver development in an R5 machine, firstly in Killarney at the Rally of the Lakes and the highlight thus far; finishing third overall on the Jim Walsh Cork Forest Rally, on his R5 gravel debut!

It’s fabulous to get this result for the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, I can’t thank everyone enough for this golden opportunity- Motorsport Ireland, Sport Ireland, Sean McHugh, John Coyne and the PCRS team.” said James.

Photo credit: Alan Noonan/Rally Through A Lens