Daniel picks up top award

Daniel Conlon centre receiving the NI Karting Driver of the Year award from Kris Meeke and William Dunlop
Daniel Conlon centre receiving the NI Karting Driver of the Year award from Kris Meeke and William Dunlop

DOLLINGSTOWN’S Daniel Conlon, from kart racing’s World Formula class, is on top of the world right now after picking up the Northern Ireland Driver of the Year award on Saturday night at the Belfast Hilton.

Despite a tough year, kart racing’s World Formula class has been a big success with near capacity grids all year making for close racing in every heat. Conlon took on both the Northern Ireland championship and the Ulster Karting Club championship in the class and virtually cleaned up in all the races this season.

Conlon had been no stranger to winning prior to this year after winning the Northern Ireland championship last season. Adding the 2012 Northern Ireland title, second in the Ulster Championship title, the Ulster Cup, the Coleraine & District Motor Club championship and still managing to be ahead by a massive 146 points is quite a feat in the class.

The junior driver of the year award went to Gary Donnelly from Dungannon after equivalent championship title wins this year in the JAG-Rotax supported Mini Max class. Donnelly also finished on the podium in the local rounds of the British championships.

Club driver of the year and International driver of the year awards went to Belfast’s Charlie Eastwood after finishing on the podium in the British championships.

As a result of the success at such levels, both Donnelly and Eastwood will take on the World Rotax finals in Portugal later this week.

Guest presenters on the night were Kris Meeke, the 2009 World Intercontinental Rally Champion, and motorcycling’s William Dunlop.

Meeke is just home after an impressive 6th on two wheels at the Baja 1000 endurance event in Mexico, impressive in that only ten motorcycle competitors actually finished. Meeke gave no indications of fixed plans for 2013 but in Dunlop’s case he hopes to be able to announce his plans in the next few days for the year ahead.

People on the organisational side of the sport did not go unnoticed either. Jonny Quigley picked up the Marshal of the year award. Muriel Holder picked up the UKC Chairpersons plate and a NIKA special award for her massive contribution to the organisational side of the sport.

Next Saturday sees the next round of the 500MRCI Karting Section Winter championships at Kirkistown ahead of the Ulster Karting Club Winter Cup over the Christmas break at Nutts Corner Circuit.

All in the sport are also reminded that in just over a week on 5th December the Ulster Karting Club will have their AGM at the Ballymac, Stoneyford, starting at 7.30pm sharp. Apart from election of club officials, this will be the best chance in the year for drivers to raise matters relating to the sport through the AGM notification forms.