Dublin, Ireland – Friday 2nd December 2016: BRSCC British National Formula Ford 1600 Champion Niall Murray is making his final preparations this week ahead of boarding a flight to California in the United States of America to take part in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, hoping to win the overall prize of a $200,000 scholarship towards the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda Championship.
Murray’s 2016 season has been nothing short of sensational, winning 12 of this years 16 races on route to the title, before winning all three of the world famous Blue-Riband Formula Ford 1600 Trophy races, the Kirkistown Martin Donnelly Trophy, Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival and Silverstone Walter Hayes Trophy.
Making the transition from Karting to Cars in 2010, Niall instantly set himself out as a star of the future. Winning the inaugural Ginetta Junior Ireland Championship, Murray then went on to race in the British Ginetta Junior Championship where the increased talent and professionalism didn’t stand in his way of securing podium finishes and in his second year in the championship in 2012, finishing third overall.
Making his Formula Ford 1600 debut in 2013, Niall achieved the unimaginable, by winning the Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival as a rookie at the event, an unprecedented achievement that didn’t go unnoticed by the judges for the Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year, awarding him the accolade for that year which would see him move away from his family team and under the guidance of Bernard Dolan for 2014.
That year he would go on to add two more titles to his CV in the shape of both the All-Ireland and Northern Ireland Formula Ford 1600 Championships. For 2015, Murray made the move to tintops, and got behind the wheel of a 300bhp SEAT Leon in the all new SEAT Supercup Ireland Championship. Despite missing the opening two rounds, Niall once again showed his class by dominating from the outset, winning the title in convincing style.
However 2016 would turn out to be Murray’s finest year to date. Returning to Bernard Dolan Racing, Niall had now set his sights on moving to America, and attracted by the prize of a coveted ticket to the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout for the overall champion, he returned behind the wheel of his Van Diemen RF99 under the expert engineering guidance of Bernard Dolan. From early in the year, Murray would set off on a breathtaking run of results that would see him command a championship lead he would never relinquish.
With the valuable support of the British Racing & Sports Car Club (BRSCC), Niall will board his flight to California tomorrow morning (Saturday 3rd December) to take part in the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a programme with the specific goal of guiding the very best talent through a number of championships including Cooper Tires USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights before moving into the main category, the Verizon IndyCar Series and racing at the famous Indianapolis 500. The programme, which carries a total prize fund each year of almost $2 million, divided down across the various championship winners, will offer next week’s shootout winner $200,000 towards competing in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda Championship and Niall will be hoping that he can secure one final and important victory this year, to kickstart his 2017 season.
Niall Murray – 2016 BRSCC British National Formula Ford 1600 Champion:
“What a year it’s been already, and now travelling to California we have the chance to make it even better. I have to say, the support I have received since winning the ticket to the shootout has been incredible, I’m blown away by it. But I would like to say a particular word of thanks to the BRSCC for supporting the trip, and of course to my long term sponsors who have helped me get to this point. Both myself and my fantastic team of people around me have left no stone unturned this year in our preparation, so I will be going out there knowing that I will be giving this my very best shot in every way. I’m looking forward to meeting so many new people, including those from Mazda Motorsports, Cooper Tires, the USF2000 teams and the other shootout finalists. Driving at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca alone will be incredible and may the best man win!”
- Saturday 3rd December:
Niall travels to California
- Monday 5th December:
Mazda Road to Indy Shootout Introduction at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
- Tuesday 6th December:
Three on-track sessions
- Wednesday 7th December:
On-track sessions to include final 30 minute race.
14:00 Local time (GMT-8) – Judges Convene – Shootout Winner Selected
About the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires: What do Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Gabby Chaves and Spencer Pigot have in common? All are graduates of series comprising the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires – one of the most successful driver development programs in the world, providing a unique, scholarship-funded path to reach the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500.
Since its launch in 2010, the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system has attracted competitors from around the globe. Drivers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Zimbabwe have been part of the grids, showcasing their talents at premier venues on a mix of road courses, temporary street circuits and ovals.
From “The World’s Fastest Spring Break Party” in St. Petersburg, Fla., to “one of the most beautiful race tracks in North America” named by Road & Track in Birmingham, Ala., and the famed Brickyard – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – drivers compete on the Verizon IndyCar Series stage in front of large crowds and television cameras as well as team owners, sponsors and media.
Sanctioned by INDYCAR, the Mazda Road to Indy provides drivers, teams and sponsors an opportunity to gain valuable experience on and off the track while following a clear-cut path of progression through three development series: Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. More information: www.indycar.com/RoadToIndy
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports: Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to Indy includes USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights racing categories with Mazda power. In sports car racing, a similar ladder system involves a number of racing series, culminating with the Mazda Prototype team which races in the top level of IMSA sports car racing in North America. In the grassroots categories, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer.
Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and B-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at www.mazdausamedia.com.
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, together with its subsidiaries, is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative, great-performing tires that people depend on for all of life’s road trips, whether on city streets, off-road adventures or high-speed tracks. In fact, Cooper Tire is proud to sponsor and race in all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also been seen on the track as a sponsor of the IMSA Prototype Lites Series, and competing in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, together with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities in 11 countries around the world. This year, as we head into our second century in the tire industry, Cooper is looking toward a future where innovation will continue to drive our products and our products will continue to drive the world. To connect with Cooper Tire, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/teamcoopertire.