Motorsport Ireland has announced the finalists for the 2011 Young Racing Driver and Young Rally Driver of the Year Awards, which will be handed out at next month's Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards in Dublin.
The top three finalists for the Dunlop Sexton Trophy for the Young Racing Driver of the Year award are Ginetta Junior race-winner Niall Murray, Renault Clio Cup championship contender Aron Smith and Ginetta Junior Ireland champion Andy O'Brien.
2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland champion Murray, who won the Young Racing Driver of the Month award for June, had a great season in the Ginetta Juniors this year, taking two wins and a total of eight podium finishes on his way to fourth in the championship standings. 22 year old Smith, the monthly award winner in April, took three wins and nine podiums in total on his way to second place in the Clio Cup, also making his BTCC debut during the year. O'Brien, the monthly winner in July, capped off a great start to his career with the Ginetta Junior title in only his second year of racing, having finished runner up in the series in 2010.
The Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year award will be contested between Daniel McKenna, Sam Moffett and Douglas Stewart. McKenna had a great year in 2011, his best result coming with third overall in the Carlow Stages Rally, also winning the Escort Mark 2 Challenge at the event. Moffett's season saw him win finish second overall and win the Group N section of the Dunlop National Rally Championship, also finishing third in the Group N section of the Irish Tarmac Championship. Stewart meanwhile competed in gravel throughout the year, the 26 year old's best result coming at the Moonrake Forestry Rally, where he won his class.
President of Motorsport Ireland Joe Corcoran said: “This year we have seen some great results both nationally and internationally by Irish competitors and our Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards will look to honour these performances. We had 13 excellent contenders for the Billy Coleman and the Dunlop Sexton Awards, who all had great seasons, so congratulations to them all and to the 6 drivers across the two categories who have now been selected as finalists. It's safe to say the future of Irish motorsport is extremely bright.”
Over twenty awards will be handed out at the Dunlop Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin on the 6th December.