Motorsport Ireland is establishing a new Rally Academy to provide promising young drivers with a pathway from the junior rallying ranks through to competing at World Rally Championship (WRC) level.
Initial funding to support the Academy is coming from John Coyne, who retired as CEO of Western Digital, a major digital storage company based in California in 2013.
“The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy is a great opportunity for me to give back to a sport that has provided me with so many great experiences over the years,” said Coyne.
“I’m delighted to be involved with supporting this initiative to identify and nurture our young motorsport talent and help them progress and represent Ireland competitively on the world stage.”
“I look forward to watching some of them competing in the WRC in the years ahead! I’d particularly like to thank Sean McHugh, Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award Co-Ordinator for his leadership, enthusiasm and hard work in proposing and developing the details of the new Rally Academy program.”
Those eligible to enter the high-performance academy will initially be chosen from the Billy Coleman Award nominees, and will be joined by Winners of the J1000, J1600 and R2 Junior classes of rallying.
Drivers and navigators who are selected will undergo a rigorous training programme to develop their skills and discipline and move them up through the various competitive classes in Irish rallying through to the highest levels of the sport internationally.
“This new initiative is focused on creating a structured development programme for young Irish rally drivers and co-drivers and is designed to prepare them to compete on the world stage,” said Leo Hassett, the CEO of Motorsport Ireland.
It also adds value to the current Billy Coleman award system, which recognises our junior drivers competing in all classes of rally vehicles. All academy drivers and co-drivers will participate in a series of coaching events throughout the year which will include driving and co-driving theory, and practice on both sealed and loose surfaces, as well as fitness and media training.”