Kevin O’Hara winning the Martin Donnelly Trophy.
With only a week to go to the Martin Donnelly Trophy in Kirkistown Race Circuit, Co Down, let’s have a look at the history of one of the most popular events in the Northern Irish calendar.
The Martin Donnelly Trophy is an award awarded annually by the 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland to the winner of a motor race held at Kirkistown. Inaugurated in 2006 as a Formula Ford trophy in honour of former F1 driver Martin Donnelly.
Martin Donnelly (born 26 March 1964) is a motor racing driver from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He competed in Formula Ford, Formula 3 and Formula 3000 where he won 3 races. In the 1988 International Formula 3000 season he finished third in the championship, despite only competing in the final five rounds of the championship with the Jordan Racing team. He raced in Formula 1 in 1989 and 1990, until a serious crash during qualifying at the Jerez circuit ended his promising Formula One career (this week 27 years ago).
For many drivers, race teams and spectators, the highlight of the Northern Ireland motor racing season is the Martin Donnelly Trophy staged at the County Down venue, organised by the 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland.
In its short history, The Martin Donnelly Trophy has become one of the most popular events on the Formula Ford 1600 calendar joining the likes of the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. This season has been yet another memorable one for one of the most historic single seater racing class in Ireland and with the championship battle over in the Northern Ireland series, the drivers can concentrate on this, the big one.
Niall Murray wins the Martin Donnelly Trophy 2016
Three drivers have won the trophy twice, Ivor McCullough (winning the trophy for the first time in 2006), Noel Robinson and Kevin O’Hara. Niall Murray, winning the trophy in 2016 (the only driver to win FF Festival, Walter Hayes Trophy and Martin Donnelly in the same year) and current Formula Ford Northern Ireland champion will want to add his name to the list of getting the ‘double’ and would be the first to achieve a back-to-back win. Murray who raced in in the British GT championship last weekend, finishing 3rd, has claimed that would be his last race of the season. We will wait and see! As ever, it will be an exciting event.
Previous Martin Donnelly Trophy Winners:
Year Winning Driver
2016 Niall Murray
2015 Kevin O’Hara
2014 Alan Davidson
2013 Kevin O’Hara
2012 Ivor McCullough
2011 Noel Robinson
2010 Neville Smyth
2009 Noel Robinson
2008 Patrick McKenna
2007 Peter Dempsey
2006 Ivor McCullough