Belfast Telegraph

Martin Donnelly's back behind the wheel for Ford race

By Sammy Hamill

Martin Donnelly will roll back the years to his school days to drive in this weekend's Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch.

The former Lotus Formula One driver is to take part in the Masters race at the world's most famous Formula Ford event more than 30 years after he first starred there as a 17-year-old still at boarding school in Dundalk.

He never won at the festival but Belfast man Donnelly went on to climb the motor racing ladder all the way to F1 before an horrific accident during practice for the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez ended his career.

He has since become a team owner, driver coach, brand ambassador for Lotus and also F1 steward.

But he still loves to race, frequently appearing in Lotus sports car events and most recently figured in the British Touring Car Championship alongside Colin Turkington.

Donnelly, whose son Stefan is taking part for the first time, will be joined in the Masters race by another ex-F1 driver Tiff Needell, as well as former Northern Ireland champion Ivor McCullough, a two-time winner of the main Kent Festival.

McCullough is also bidding to become the first driver to win the title three times and he is joined by a strong Irish contingent which includes new British and All-Ireland champion Jonny McMullan who was runner-up to James Raven last year.

Wayne Boyd will be back, too, the 2008 British champion making his now annual re-appearances in the final two big events of the season, the Brands Hatch Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone which he won last year.

Niall Murray, Jake Byrne, Robert Barrable and recent Martin Donnelly Trophy winner Kevin O'Hara are among the other Irish drivers taking part.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph