Schools Out: Keith Donegan on his Incredible Comeback Season
2017 was the year that Keith Donegan exploded back onto the Motorsport scene, as such a simple 60 Seconds with wasn’t going to cut it. I caught up with him over the turn of the year to find out why he took a break from Motorsport, his sensational comeback in 2017 and what lies ahead for 2018 in USF2000.
(Keep reading at the end for Keith’s 60 Seconds With)
We’ve all been caught up following your comeback year,
but why the break in the first place?
The break came about in my leaving cert year when my family and I decided that the racing was going to interfere on my education. Obviously I wasn’t happy about this because we had just done well in the Ginetta Junior UK championship. Nonetheless I tried to keep my eye in with the odd Rallysprint but April 2017 was the first time I got back in a race car seat since September 2013.
What did it feel like to get back racing?
I never lost the passion and desire so I worked hard at my college and got grades good enough that I was allowed go back racing. I really realised what I was missing all those years when I finally got back in the seat and I was just thrilled to be back. With that being said after a few runs in the car I wanted to pick up where I left off on winning ways. 2017 was exceptionally difficult for us. We had so much misfortune at the start of the season it was unbelievable. We never lost spirit though and we worked so hard on the car to try get our heads around it and we had it sorted probably at the halfway point in the year.
You’re a family run outfit. Who had you got to support you and what did it take to compete at the level you have this season?
It’s basically myself, my Dad, my uncle David and Pat Duffy. I drove the lorry and prepared the car during the week with Pat. It’s hard to explain because many people think it’s a disadvantage having a family run car but where else would you get a gang of guys so hungry and dedicated to getting their driver to win.
To finish the season with the MRTI Shootout win must still feel unreal,
can you describe Shootout experience?
The whole Mazda Road to Indy Shootout experience was insane. You honestly have to think of everything. It’s not good enough to be just fast you have to have the whole package. I had the fastest lap of the weekend however but nonetheless I definitely had to push myself outside of my comfort zones off the track. The pressure was huge but it was the same for everyone and I played it to my advantage.
What work now goes into getting ready for 2018?
Obviously 2018 is an important year for me, I’m putting lots into my physical preparation because come march I want to be the fittest guy on the grid. Also mentally I’m constantly preparing in my work with Linda Keen. I’m going to be so mentally tough come the first race and I’m excited already to see how ready I will be. In terms of learning the tracks, I’ve been spending some time in the UK on simulators which is helping and of course we have a testing programme to follow too.
Thanks to Keith for taking the time to chat with us and we wish you every success in 2018. To finish here’s 60 Seconds With. (Another one with no love for Star Wars 😀 )
Occupation: Full time Racing
Road Car: BMW 3 series Msport.
Race Car: USF2000
Drive of my Life: Formula ford Festival 2017- 6th to 2nd
Best race car ever driven: USF2000
Best road car ever driven: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Dream race car: IndyCar or F1
Dream road car: Ferrari F40 (red obviously)
Other interests: Fitness, Music, and I love all competition and sports.
Famous Movie you don’t rate: Star Wars
1 Musician/Band you rate: Walking on Cars
1 you don’t: Sultans of Ping
Fav Food: Pizza/ Italian
Fav Restaurant: Tolteca
It’s our round, what are you having: Champagne 😉