Northern Ireland may be a relatively small country, but it is filled with motorsport talent, and that was very evident at Saturday’s annual Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs’ awards evening!
With an impressive array of more than 200 perpetual cups and crystal trophies, the finest competitors in the country were present at the Armagh City Hotel to receive their accolades and awards for the 2017 season.
All motorsport disciplines were represented from junior rallying and autotesting to racing, hill climbing and stage rallying, the star-studded evening was a night to remember.
It was fantastic to acknowledge all the UK award winners from Northern Ireland in the JLT/MSA Club and Volunteer of the Year awards with Barry Arundell from Omagh lifting the overall UK Volunteer of the Year Award.Barry and two category winners in these awards will each attend the prestigious MSA Night of Champions at the RAC Club, Pall Mall, London on Saturday 27th January 2018.
Members of Ballynahinch and District Motor Club received their award and cheque from MSA as runner-up in the JLT/MSA Club of the Year.
On hand to present many of the awards was Colin Turkington, double British Touring Car Champion.
Together with presentations honouring all the ANICC Championship winners there were also other surprises in store. The ANICC presented a very well deserved 2017 Clubman of the Year Award to Jackie Elliott from Fivemiletown marking her contribution as Chair of the ANICC Stage Rally Committee, Chair of her local Motor Club, outstanding club official at events for over 20 years and a most successful competitor in many Championships and grassroots rallies throughout Ireland.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2017 Northern Ireland Motorsport Award which was presented to triple World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea MBE for his achievements around the world in winning three successive World Championships.
The four wheeled motorsport fraternity in Northern Ireland truly acknowledged the dedication and commitment of Jonathan for his support to his homeland of Northern Ireland and this award was a wonderful surprise for everyone.
Accepting the award on his behalf Johnny Rea (father) said: “This is a fantastic honour for Jonathan to receive this award from all his motorsport supporters at home and he is very sorry not to be able to be with us tonight as he is in Australia preparing for the 2018 season. Jonathan sincerely appreciates this support from four wheeled motorsport Clubs and members.”
Speaking on behalf of the ANICC, Chairman Henry Campbell, said: “This has been a tremendous evening for Northern Ireland Motorsport. This small country has the ability to produce some exceptional driving talent and in 2017, many achieved their personal goals and have been recognised on the International stage. Henry also expressed his personal support for all the fantastic volunteers who work in the sport from Northern Ireland and particularly again this year with a Northern Ireland volunteer claiming the overall award from MSA. ”
Finally, Henry also congratulated Jonathan Rea MBE on receiving the ANICC Motorsport Award and said: “It is important to offer support and congratulations to all of our award winners. I wish everyone a safe and successful year’s motorsport during 2018.”
With the triumphs of 2017 behind them, competitors are gearing up towards another successful season. Many championships are already underway, and there are sure to be some tight battles in all disciplines.
Photograph shows Johnny Rea receiving the ANICC Motorsport Award on behalf of his son, Jonathan Rea MBE from (left) Nicky Moffitt, ANICC Secretary, Colin Turkington and Henry Campbell, ANICC Chairman (Photo credit to John O’Neill, Sperrins Photography).