McErlean hits jackpot with Coleman Award
Josh McErlean has become the third Ulster driver in a row to be named winner of Motorsport Ireland's Billy Coleman Award, collecting a prize package worth up to €100,000.
Announced as Young Rally Driver of the Year from a final shortlist of three at MI's Champions of Motorsport lunch in the Citywest Hotel, Dublin yesterday, McErlean follows in the footsteps of James Wilson (2018) and Callum Devine (2017).
The 20-year-old from Kilrea won the British Junior Championship this year with a round to spare, clinching the title with victory on his home Ulster Rally.
He flew back from Italy to attend the presentation after taking part in the Monza Rally Show, where he finished 18th and drew praise for his debut performance from the Italian PromoRacing team who were running his R5 Hyundai i20.
As part of the Coleman Award, McErlean, a second year mechanical engineering student at the Ulster University, will receive support to the value of €100,000 for the 2020 season. This consists of €50,000 funded by Sport Ireland and Motorsport Ireland, and a further €50,000 pledged by the Team Ireland Foundation.
The other finalists were Andrew Mackerel and David Kelly, who will also receive support for 2020.
The Young Racing Driver of the Year award, which was won last year by Belfast's Charlie Eastwood, went to James Roe Jr from Kildare, who has been competing in the American F3 Championship where his results included victory in the Road America round.
More than 30 trophies were presented at the lunch to various champions in a range of motorsport categories, including the Manley Trophy for the International Driver of the Year which went to former Coleman Award winner Devine.
That was in recognition for his performances in this season's Irish Tarmac Championship, where he finished third behind Craig Breen and Alastair Fisher, and took a superb third place in the European Championship Rally Hungary.
The Co Derry ace also lifted the FIA Celtic Trophy, while the Neil Shanahan Memorial Trophy was awarded to TJ McDonnell from Belfast, who became National Junior Kart Champion in the IAME X30 Class.