HOGAN NAMED DUNLOP YOUNG RACING DRIVER OF THE YEAR Motor racing star Patrick Hogan is this week celebrating after being named the Dunlop Young Racing Driver of the Year by Motorsport Ireland, the Killiney-based sensation now the proud custodian...
HOGAN NAMED DUNLOP YOUNG RACING DRIVER OF THE YEAR
Motor racing star Patrick Hogan is this week celebrating after being named the Dunlop Young Racing Driver of the Year by Motorsport Ireland, the Killiney-based sensation now the proud custodian of the prestigious Walter Sexton Memorial Trophy.
Patrick, who enjoyed an outstanding season in Formula Renault UK this year and ended the championship tied on points with bitter rival Sebastian Hohenthal at the head of the standings, was honoured during a special gala lunch on Tuesday, 5th December, at Dublin's Radisson SAS Hotel.
As part of his prize the 22-year-old, who raced to six wins this season in Formula Renault and may yet be crowned 2006 Champion subject to the outcome of an appeal hearing which was heard yesterday at the UK's Motor Sports Council, also received a cheque for 0x20ac35,000 which will make a significant difference to his 2007 budget.
"It's an incredible honour to be named Young Driver of the Year", said Patrick, "Winning the award is a very proud moment for me, I'm absolutely delighted and I'd like to thank Motorsport Ireland for all of their support throughout my race career so far.
"We had a fantastic year in Formula Renault UK, the AKA Lemac team did me proud, and to end the championship tied on points at the top of the standings -- the first time it's ever happened in the history of the series -- really is a great achievement.
"I've had terrific support from my family and I have some superb investors who helped to make our championship bid possible this year. Without all of them there's no doubt I would ever have been in a position to be named Ireland's Young Driver of the Year so I want to take this opportunity to express my sincerest thanks to everyone."
Tuesday's ceremony proved to be third time lucky for Patrick in his bid to be crowned Dunlop Young Racing Driver of the Year, twice previously he has been in the top three, but due to the success he has achieved in such a short space of time, it's easy to forget his association with racing only began in 2002.
Contrary to the overwhelming majority of his peers, Patrick never competed in karting as a youngster and so his first ever mileage on a race track of any description came at the end of 2002 when he entered, and subsequently won, the Johnny Herbert Scholarship at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
Since that time, the Dubliner has become established as a genuine natural talent and perhaps Ireland's best prospect for future success in the upper echelons of world motorsport. But rather than focus solely on climbing the ladder to Formula One, Patrick also has one eye on the opportunities offered in North America.
Having already enjoyed his maiden testing mileage in a Champ Car Atlantic car last week with the renowned Forsythe Championship Racing team, the Irishman says it looks most likely he will continue his career in North America in 2007 with the aim of then graduating to the prestigious Champ Car World Series.
MSC hears Hogan's championship appeal Before then, however, the Irishman has 14 days to wait in order to discover the outcome of his appeal to the UK's national Motor Sports Council following the highly controversial conclusion to the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship in October.
Having re-asserted himself in the lead of the driver standings following a stunning victory during the 19th and penultimate round of the season, a race in which he also bagged two vital bonus points for setting the fastest lap, the stage was set for a titanic title battle with fierce rival Hohenthal during the final race.
However, controversy was heaped on the pivotal encounter when Hohenthal and his team-mate Sam Bird both appeared to contravene Safety Car regulations in order to effectively 'gift' the Swede a decisive seventh win of the season -- enough to tip the title in his favour even though he and Patrick would end the year tied on 481 points each.
Although the championship Clerk of the Course and the stewards of the race meeting chose to allow Hohenthal's victory to stand without penalty, the Motor Sports Council crucially agreed to accept Patrick's appeal and the hearing took place yesterday, Wednesday, 6th December.
"We're all delighted with how the MSC hearing went", explained Patrick, "Our argument was heard very fairly and for our appeal to have been considered at all vindicates our decision to go ahead and challenge what happened at Silverstone.
"After such a superb season it was awful for what took place under the Safety Car to have an impact on the outcome of the championship. We have two weeks to wait now for the MSC decision though but, whatever happens, becoming Motorsport Ireland's Driver of the Year has been a superb end to a very successful season."