Irishman Daniel McKenna wins Pirelli Star Driver shootout

A proud Daniel McKenna with the Pirelli Star Driver prize Citroën DS3

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MSA British Rally Championship

Irishman Daniel McKenna wins Pirelli Star Driver shootout

Daniel McKenna is this year’s coveted MSA British Rally Championship Pirelli UK Star Driver shootout after wowing a panel of five judges during a two-day competition, based at the iconic motorsport complex of Sweet Lamb in Wales.

McKenna and regular co-driver Arthur Kierans were also crowned the new BRC RallyTwo champions at the weekend and beat off stiff competition from five other finalists to win a full British Rally Championship campaign courtesy of tyre supplier Pirelli. McKenna, who hails from County Monaghan, will compete on all seven rounds of next year’s BRC at the wheel of a Citroën DS3 R3T supplied by DGM Motorsport.

Now in its seventh year, the Pirelli Star Driver programme has helped a number of promising drivers in their quest to become an international rally star. Previous winners include the recently-crowned British Rally Champion Jukka Korhonen and WRC Academy Champion Elfyn Evans, perfect examples of drivers who has used the support and guidance from Pirelli to progress their careers.

Focusing on the lower categories and providing a leg up the ladder, Pirelli Star Driver selections this year came exclusively from the new BRC RallyTwo and Junior Rally Championships. This year’s finalists included Jon Armstrong, Ruary MacLeod, Steve Røkland, Daniel McKenna, Alex Parpottas and recently-crowned British Junior Rally Champion, Ben Mckay.

The six finalists were assessed on their abilities to drive their championship car on a two-mile stage at Sweet Lamb: the same complex that is used as a rally stage in the FIA World Rally Championship in November. The drivers were also tested on their skills behind the wheel, media awareness, technical nous and future potential.

A panel of five judges including BRC Managing Director Mark Taylor, motoring journalist Evan Rothman, Finland’s Risto Laine, Citroën Racing’s Jean-Francois Lienere and former Subaru World Rally Team member John McLean assessed the finalists and agreed that McKenna was the most worthy prize winner.

26-year-old McKenna said:

“At the start of the year, I could never have imagined that we would have won both the BRC RallyTwo category and also the Pirelli Star Driver shootout. The conditions were tough as it was slippery on the stage but we knew that we’d done the best we could. I was a finalist at the Pirelli shootout in 2010 and I was really disappointed when I lost out but it just means that I appreciate this win more than ever.

“I’d like to thank Pirelli, Citroën and DGM Motorsport for this fantastic opportunity and I can’t wait to get stuck into next year’s championship now. I’m determined to make the most of every moment.”

Pirelli UK Motorsport Operations Manager Matthew Corby added:

“I know we say this every year but the level of competition is the highest we have ever witnessed. Despite the tough conditions, everyone performed extremely well on the driving element which made it even harder to reach a decision. After we announced the winner, we gave each runner-up a thorough debrief in order to help them progress in their careers.

“Daniel was speechless for 20 minutes – he has put in a lot of effort this year and really deserves this opportunity. He was a candidate at our shootout in 2010 and took on board the advice we gave him – it’s been excellent to see Daniel back again this year and stronger than ever. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our other finalists for all their hard work: they can leave Wales with their heads held high but unfortunately there can only be one winner.”

BRC Manager Mark Taylor said:

“Thanks to Pirelli’s support over the years, we have seen many great drivers at the now-traditional end of season shootout. The quality and commitment just gets better every year and we know that Daniel will make the most of the Pirelli Star Driver prize in next year’s British Rally Championship and beyond.”