Ahead of Niall Murrays USF2000 debut this weekend we thought we would take a look back on how far one of Irelands most talented drivers has came since he got behind the wheel back in 2011.
At just 22 years old , Niall Murray from Co.Dublin has a list of victory’s to his name as long as Floyd May-weather – he is almost untouchable.
Since stepping into a Ginneta G20 back in 2010, Niall has dominated in nearly every class he has entered. Joining Ginetta Junior Ireland, Niall claimed the title for the opening season before heading across the pond to take on the UK junior drivers with Douglas Motorsport in the Ginetta G40 junior series. With numerous podiums and always at the top of the time sheets, Murray missed out on the title due to dropped scores and finished 3rd.
Returning home Murray claimed the 2013 Motorsport Ireland Young driver award, this is where he began his relationship with Bernard Dolan – the Formula Ford guru.
Off the back of winning the famous Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival in 2013, Niall went on to drive the Motorsport Ireland FF1600 Van Diemen under the reigns of Bernard Dolan and quickly began to show he was not just a saloon car driver claiming the 2014 NI Formula Ford title along with the All Ireland FF title.
With options limited as the 2015 campaign rapidly approached, Murray found himself making his first foray into tin-top racing with a late challenge in the SEAT Supercup Ireland series – of course he won that title too !
In his white Murray Motorsport liveried Van Diemen , Niall again under the reigns of Bernard Dolan went to the UK to take on the BRSCC British Formula Ford Championship for 2016.With A run of ten victories in fourteen races, Niall had ensured that the title was his with three races to spare.
That wasn’t all for the Irishman, who went on the take victories in the Formula Ford Festival, Walter Hayes Trophy and Martin Donnelly Trophy.
As a result of winning the British Formula Ford Championship , Murray walked away with a ticket to the USA, he would partake in a shootout against 17 other drivers worldwide for the chance to take a heavily funded drive in USF2000 ,an Indycar support class- This would be the “Road to Indy”.
Whilst Murray made the final 6 in the shootout, he did not walk away with the road to Indy winning ticket.
Straight into 2017- Murray was not giving up on his hopes for the road to Indy and quickly put a deal together with the successful Bernard Dolan to drive the EX Motorsport Ireland FF1600 in this years Northern Ireland Formula Ford Championship.Having won the championship in 2014 in the same car, Murray was confident -and winning this would give him a second chance at the shootout.
Half way through the season, and in contention for the FF championship title Murray throws a curve ball – British GT Championship.
Securing a last minute deal with Century Motorsport, Murray would see out the last two rounds of the British GT championship in the Ginetta G55 GT4 car.
Heading to Brands Hatch GP circuit for his British GT Debut , the #43 car of Murray and Jacob Mathiassen missed out on victory due to a time penalty for unsafe release from the pits.
Speaking to Murray after the weekend he said “with a few small changes to the car for Donnington in September I think we can take home a win”.
Just when we thought he could do no more, Murray announces straight after his return from his British GT Debut that he will partake in the USF2000 round at Watkins Glen in September.
Murray wasted no time in preparing for this , jumping straight on a plane to meet the team and get some testing under his belt.
Getting to grips with the F4 style single seater car, Murray was consistent in setting a decent time around the teams local test track before heading to Watkins Glen to test ahead of his USF2000 debut.
On arriving at Watkins Glen Murray was on the pace almost straight away during the track day setting a time within 2 tenths of a second of the fastest time set at the official USF2000 practice day two weeks ago.
After his week long stay in USA with the Newman Wachs team, Murray arrived home on Saturday morning at 5am only to head straight from Dublin Airport to Kirkistown in Northern Ireland.
Fighting the jet lag, Murray qualified 2nd and won both races which now makes him the 2017 NI Formula Ford Champion for a second time , and with one round to spare!
With this under his belt , Murray can focus on heading back to the states to use his debut USF2000 drive to learn as much as he can before heading back before the judges in this years shootout.
I think we speak for the entire Motorsport community in Ireland when I wish Niall the best of success he deserves for the future.