Belfast Telegraph

In pictures: Jonathan Rea wins another accolade as motorsport's spark-ling night aids kids charity

 

By Sammy Hamill

The Ulster motorsport community and friends have reached deep into their pockets to raise almost £50,000 for their favoured charity.

The annual Sparks dinner, which supports Action Medical Research for children, saw the Culloden Hotel in Holywood packed with prominent motorsport faces including World Rally Championship-winning team boss Malcolm Wilson and his Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans, as well as the former Irish racing driver Tommy Byrne. Wilson flew in along with Evans, the 2016 Ulster Rally winner, shortly after announcing that reigning World champion Sebastien Ogier had rejected overtures from Citroen and would be staying with the Cumbria-based M-Sport Ford team.

And Wilson was in buoyant form as he told interviewer Tony Jardine of his fight to keep Ogier on board and his elation at bringing Ford their first manufacturers' title since 2007.

Byrne travelled over from Florida where he is now a reformed character and a racing school instructor but he recounted to Ulster's leading motorsport author Maurice Hamilton tales of his rapid rise to Formula One and his ever faster descent into alcoholism.

Unavoidably absent on the night was regular attendee Jonathan Rea but he was unanimously chosen as winner of the Sparks Contribution to Motorsport award in recognition of his record three World Superbike titles in a row, his recorded message greeted by a standing ovation.

Belfast Telegraph

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