Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Ulster starlets earn shot at the big time

The efforts of two young Ulster drivers, Mark Donnelly and Jonny Leonard, on the Todds Leap Ulster Rally haven't gone unnoticed.

Donnelly, who finished third in the British championship division, and Leonard, fourth in the Northern Ireland championship category, have been awarded free entries in Britain's round of the World championship, Wales Rally GB, in November.

They were the winners of the Ulster Youth Challenge, a competition supported by Sport Northern Ireland through their International Sport Events Programme, which aims to develop improved performance pathways for Northern Ireland athletes, players and sports.

Once the crews crossed the finishing line, the times for each eligible crew were calculated and Donnelly and Leonard were the local category winners.

Other crews to benefit from the Youth Challenge were Welshman Osian Pryce, who took his first British championship win, and Monaghan's Stephen Wright who finished fifth on the Ulster Rally. Both crews won a free entry on the 2014 Ulster Rally.

Kesh teenager Jon Armstrong, who put in a stunning performance on the first leg before crashing out on day two, quickly got over the disappointment when he was named as the Pirelli Star Driver of the rally.

Armstrong will go forward to the end-of-season shoot-out and be given the chance to earn himself a fully-funded drive in the Pirelli Star Car in next year's championship.

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