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Keelan Grogan - Left / Aryton Sherlock - Right

Three additional nominations now join Keelan Grogan in the running for the 2023 Billy Coleman Award. Jack Brennan, Cian Caldwell and Jack McKenna have all cemented their place in contention for the award as a result of winning their respective categories in the Motorsport Ireland Junior Rally Series (MIJRS).

John McGrath - Left / Jack Brennan - Right

Brennan, 19, hails from Kilkenny and despite his young age, is a former Billy Coleman Award finalist. After a successful MIJRS campaign taking top honours in the Rally5 class, Jack has already made the switch to a Peugeot 208 Rally4 for the 2024 season. It was in this Peugeot 208 Rally4 that Jack had the highlight of his year by winning the Rally4 category at the recent Cambrian Rally in just his second rally at the level. Away from the stages Jack is busy working as an apprentice mechanic. He would like to thank all his sponsors, his co-driver John McGrath and NCRS for all their work throughout the year. His plans for the remainder of the year are to compete in various events over the Christmas period and to work hard on his fitness and preparation for next season.

Cian Caldwell - Left / Liam Egan - Right

19-year-old Caldwell is a Meath native and another who has made the switch to a Peugeot 208 Rally4 for the 2024 season, but his nomination comes from a successful MIJRS JR2/Rally4 campaign at the helm of a Ford Fiesta Rally4. When he's not rallying, Cian is hard at work as a Vehicle body repair specialist apprentice. The youngster cites his 2017 representation of Ireland at the Karting World Finals in Le Mans as his career highlight, until it was eclipsed by MIJRS success this year and getting to be competitive on both tarmac and gravel. Caldwell would like to thank his Co-Driver Liam Egan, his sponsors and MCN Rallying for ensuring he is always in a position to be competitive. His plans for the remainder of the year are to compete in the Grizedale Stages (December 1-2), Carlow Car Club Rallysprint (December 27), Cork Motor Club Boggeragh Sprint (December 29), aswell as working on personal fitness and fine tuning pacenotes.

Jack McKenna - Left / Mac Kieran’s - Right

The third MIJRS nominee is Monaghan's Jack McKenna. The 25-year-old works day to day as a Agricultural Technician and as well as securing the J1600 MIJRS title also won the junior sections of the Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship and the Sligo Pallets Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Championship. Mckenna's success in the Junior section of the National Championship means he has now won this championship as both a Co-Driver and a Driver. Aside from winning four junior titles this season, Jack’s career highlights to date include his junior victories on the Galway and Donegal International Rallies. McKenna would like to thank his co-drivers throughout the year, Damian Doherty, Mac Kieran’s and Darren Curren and his team who helped in service all year and finally, his loyal sponsors who this could not be achieved without.

About the Billy Coleman Award:

This year’s Billy Coleman Award will see 2 qualifiers selected from the following monthly groupings; January-May (Keelan Grogan), June-October (TBA). These nominees will be joined by the highest placed eligible drivers from the Junior sections in the Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship and the Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Championship, the highest placed eligible drivers in the dual surface Motorsport Ireland J1600 and JR2/Rally4 Junior Rally Series as well as a wildcard selection, meaning that up to 7 drivers may be nominated for the award in 2023.

The winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year Award will receive €100,000 worth of support to contest rallies nationally and internationally in 2024. Coupled with Sport Ireland and Motorsport Ireland’s €50,000 investment, a further €50,000 has been pledged by the Team Ireland Foundation.

The award winner will also receive assistance from Billy Coleman co-ordinator Sean McHugh. Additional support from the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy as part of a training and development plan to progress the winners’ career will also be available, and the winner may apply for funding for a second year of support upon satisfactory performances in their award-winning year. Both award runners up will receive support to compete in stage rallies at home and abroad up to an amount of €15,000 each.

Text by Alex Sinclair Jr.

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