A 17-year-old who received the top marks in his school for his Leaving Certificate, a winner of the UK Porsche Championship and the holder of a Scottish record are the three drivers selected as finalists in the Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year award.
Jordan Dempsey, from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, has been named alongside Charlie Eastwood (22), from Castlereigh, Belfast and James Roe (19), from Bodenstown, Co Kildare, in the race for the prestigious Sexton Trophy and a €50,000 prize fund.
The three drivers were drawn from six candidates who were nominated on the back of their performances during the course of this year. They were selected from a range of track racing disciplines and underwent a rigorous selection process in front of a judging panel made up from representatives of the racing community and the media.
Charlie Eastwood won the Porsche Carrera Championship in the UK. In what was an extremely competitive 14-race season, he clinched the title on the last lap of the final race in Brands Hatch to be crowned 2017 champion.
James Roe was a standout competitor in the Formula Ford class in Ireland and the UK. He secured several notable finishes during the season, including setting a new lap record at Knockhill in Fife, Scotland, that had previously stood for ten years.
Jordan Dempsey (pictured above) spent the initial part of the race season concentrating on his Leaving Cert at Mullingar Community College, where his results secured him the accolade of being the highest achiever in his school.
On his return to racing in Formula Ford, Dempsey immediately showed impressive form, with several pole positions, lap records and victory in his first British Championship race at Castle Combe in Wiltshire, England.
“What an amazing threesome” said Martin McKenna, President of Motorsport Ireland when told of the finalists. “Whoever gets this year’s award will have won it against the stiffest opposition possible. Good luck to them all”.
The Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year award and the historic Sexton Trophy are presented to the individual who has demonstrated the most potential to represent Ireland at home and internationally both on the track as well as in the public eye. The winner will receive a €50,000 support package to help develop their motor-racing career.
In addition, all three finalists will be included in the Team Ireland development programme run by Motorsport Ireland to nurture and support young drivers.
The current Motorsport Ireland Young Driver of The Year, Cian Carey, competed in Formula 3 in the UK this year and ended his season on a high after he achieved a memorable victory at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
In what was his maiden F3 season, the Meath driver also set a new lap record in Donington Park. Carey came back to his home circuit of Mondello Park in September, where he won the prestigious Leinster Trophy. Previous winners of the Leinster Trophy include Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and John Watson.
The overall winner of the 2017 award will be announced at the Beta Irish Motorsport awards ceremony which will take place on Tuesday, December 5th at The Round Room at The Mansion House. The award is presented annually and is supported by Sport Ireland and Motorsport Ireland.
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