Seventeen year old Andy O'Brien from Templeogue is the latest nominee for the 2011 Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year award. Andy put on a superb performance at Mondello Park on Sunday 24th July netting him not only a race victory and a second position, but he also broke the championship's lap record at the Kildare venue in race one and then went on to further improve on that time in race two.
Andy now racing in his second season of the Ginetta Junior Ireland Championship has been front runner right from the very beginning. With several race victories and podium finishes this season, Andy is currently one of three drivers in the hunt to win the championship which itself carries a very significant prize of a part funded prize drive in the British Ginetta Junior Championship which supports the British Touring Car Championship.
O'Brien who has recently completed his Leaving Certificate at St. MacDaras in Templeogue intends to begin an mechanic apprenticeship programme in September expressed his delight at the recent nomination. "I am absolutely over the moon with this nomination. This award is very prestigious with some very successful drivers having won it in the past and I definitely hope to emulate them. This nomination puts the icing on the cake to what has been a fantastic month with the announcement of my latest partner, Atlas Autoservice who are supporting me for the remainder of the season and hopefully many more to come".
Andy is supported by Atlas Autoservice, Captain America’s, Borza Takeaways, Top Oil – Ushers Quay, D’Arcy McGees, Raw Limited, Auto Tranz, Vision Sign and Otto.
Having been selected at July's Young Racing Driver of the Month for the 2011 season, Andy is now a contender for the prestigious €50,000 Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year award. This award is presented annually and is sponsored by Dunlop, the Irish Sports Council and Motorsport Ireland.
It was a race against time to get the car ready and big thanks to both my Dad and Eric Fleming for getting the car back to full health in just four days before heading North to Kirkistown. Quallifying was tough, a one man band against four team mates with the option for slip streaming on the long straights of Kirkistown left me splitting the team qualliftyng third with Andrew Watson taking a great pole position with Jake Byrne alongside.
The race got underway and in an attempt to avoid the half spinning Sean Doyle car I had to take to the grass which I caused damage over a big bump. I had broken the Anti Roll Bar link which in effect I was carrying alot of understeer for the remaining laps in the race. Richardson made a late dive up the inside of Watson at Fishermans corner resulting in the later non finishing as I passed the recovering Richardson. I went on to take second place, succeeding my aim of bringing the car home in one piece!
Race two was an action packed event. I started fourth and was sitting comfortably in third after passing Watson early on. Joel Richardson, ever the entertainer made a move on Sean Doyle into Colonial 1 resulting in both loosing the rear of the car and contact between Sean Doyle and I resulted in my steering being knocked out. This allowed Watson to drive past all three of us unscathed and I rejoined in second. I was catching Watson with two laps remaining though with yellow flags out in the suitable passing areas I settled for another second position behind Watson with his debut victory.
Have had two race weekends to date, round 1 quallified pole by .2 and won the race, round 2 made a move for the lead and got taken out breaking the rear upright causing my suspension to fail - DNF. Round 3 moved away from Mondello up to Northern Irelands Kirkistown, as I am a one man team I struggled in quallifying as everybody was towing down the long straights and I was happy to qualify P3, P1,P2, P4 and P5 were all towing. Race one drove a sensible race though had to take the grass route to avoid a spinner which snapped my ARB link which gave me horrid understeer though I brought it home in second. Race two, stayed out of trouble were I could and was lying P3, the leaders hit each other and one was sideways at the apex of a 3rd gear corner I made slight contact which knocked my steering out. Rejoined in second catching the leader though ran out of laps. Overall took most points from that weekend and even with my DNF I'm already right back up there! Bit of a break now until next race in Anglesey, Wales.
For me the fact I know how hard the are concentrating to get every note correct one after another makes it easier to find more exciting. When I watch onboards you can hear how fast the notes come, its all on adrenaline, concentration and skill. Take a look at this video, listen how fast some of the notes come to the driver, how little time he would have to correct something if he had a lapse in concentration he would be a gonner! It's Craig Breen on one of Irelands most famous stages Molls Gap. Craig also has a LFS licence and is competing in the WRC Academy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw3y8Kvmiwk
He had trouble with the car surging around right handers, which in brands hatch indy will murder you! He got it sorted for the race though only qualified 10th. Race 1 he was caught up in a crash at turn 1 and was down the grid but got back up with pace to be happy with and race two he was upto 4th and hit off at druids back down to 13th though finished eight lapping faster than the leaders almost every lap after he got out of the gravel. Pace wise alot to be happy about, positions didn't show his speed. Hopefully Donnington next weekend he will do the business!
Team worked hard last night and theyre confident they have found the problem, speaking to him this morning he is confident he is the fastest there and if the car is back 100% it will be a cracker of a race starting from 10!
Was on the phone to him earlier, not happy at all. Has intermittent power issues, Ginetta had the car on the dyno for awhile today, replaced many parts with no results, car seems to be getting worse he says, managed P10 on the grid. Hopefully they get it sorted this evening so he can go like fxck tomorrow!
Great to see plenty of Irish on the Road to Indy Paddy McKenna, pipped myself and n-murray to the Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year worth €50,000 last season and he is racing in the Star Mazda, Peter Dempsey is out in the Indy Lights, lead the race from the start and finished third, and former F1 driver Derek Daly who lived in my area, his son Conor Daly doing very well for himself lately!
Only four weeks till opening rounds, so far I have done two pre season tests.. 1st one was pissing rain and I was over 2 seconds quicker in the wet and second one was yesterday where I was quickest and took the unofficial lap record, happy out
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