It’s been a year to remember for James Wilson from Keady, who was announced as the winner of the Billy Coleman Award for the Young Rally Driver of the Year at the Motorsport Ireland Awards in Dublin.
The 24-year-old Co. Armagh driver will receive support to the value of 50,000 euros for the 2019 season.
Wilson said: “There was quite a build up to it with the interviews, selection process and when we made it into the final three, it got really exciting.
“At the awards in the Mansion House in Dublin, seeing all the faces there and awaiting the announcement it started to dawn just how prestigious the award is. When I was announced as the winner, it felt like the blood just drained from me, I was stunned, and was just ecstatic.”
He faced stiff competition during the selection process for the award as he fended off a number of other great young drivers in what has been described as one of the closest decisions for the judges.
Indeed the final three featured another County Armagh driver - Jason Black - and R2 class rival Jordan Hone from Claudy.
Wilson now joins a list of illustrious winners of the Billy Coleman Award, which includes World Rally Championship driver, Craig Breen, and record breaking four-time British Rally champion Keith Cronin. He was nominated for his performances in January and February of this year and went on to further successes throughout the season.
Wilson was the 2018 Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Junior Rally Champion and also secured a podium finish in the Junior British Rally Championship on the Ypres Rally in Belgium.
Speaking at the awards, Motorsport Ireland President John Naylor said: “Congratulations are due to all the winners at this year’s Beta Tools Motorsport Ireland Awards. The standards that they, and the other nominees, set during the course of this year show that the future of motorsport in Ireland is very bright indeed.
“The depth of talent among our young drivers is continuously growing and, alongside our partners in Sport Ireland, Motorsport Ireland is committed to supporting and developing drivers and providing them with every opportunity to succeed at the highest level.”