Future Champions 2020

The Future Champions Support Programme is the Ulster Automobile Club’s latest membership initiative which focuses specifically on supporting our young club members with their motorsport activities.

Latest News

William Creighton, one of our Four Future Champions has been shortlisted for the Motorsport News National Rally Driver Award 2021.
One of these awards were votes count !

Perhaps you will support by voting for him and better still, consider forwarding to your friends and asking them to do likewise and forward to their friends.

To vote please follow the below link –

https://www.fastcar.co.uk/motorsportnews/national-rally-driver-of-the-year-2021 <https://www.fastcar.co.uk/motorsportnews/national-rally-driver-of-the-year-2021>

Support Programme

The Future Champions Support Programme shared £2000 equally between four young members to support their 2020 motorsport activities. This is one element of our Club development strategy to support young club members to compete, learn, gain experience and above all have fun! A complimentary element will focus on supporting women to participate in all forms of motorsport.

Council believe these young members; who have already gained great experience across a range of motorsport disciplines; possess the potential, qualities, skills and abilities needed to become future motorsport champions and we want to support and encourage their development.

Cheques for £500 each were presented by Erin Stewart, our membership secretary and youngest female club member to (L to R below); William Creighton, Daniel Harper, Adam McMullan & Ben McKee at the drivers briefing on It’s Not The Boxing Day Rally just after Christmas in 2019.

Three of the recipients were competing on the event and Daniel joined us for the presentation. All of them were delighted with the boost to their budgets and greatly appreciate this move by the Club. 

Future Champions 2020 Review

Daniel Harper
BMW Junior Team

I signed as part of the BMW Junior Team at the end of last year. This was a big decision for me, as it meant I pulled of the Porsche Junior shootout for a chance at the Porsche Supercup. 

It was a great opportunity to sign with a manufacturer and learn the endurance side of motorsport. I was partnered with team-mates Neil Verhagen and Max Hesse, and as well as racing together we also shared an apartment together at the Nurburgring. We competed in the Nurburgring Endurance Series (NLS) and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, whilst we also got to do multiple media events with BMW and attend some DTM races through the year.  

After the first lockdown ended in June, we returned to Germany to start racing. We began in a BMW M240i whilst we completed our Nordschleife permits, which then allowed us to move up to faster machinery. We competed in the first three races with FK Performance in the M240i Cup class and took victory in our third race together. This was a very special moment and a great achievement as we were very much still learning the track.  

After getting our Permit A, we were able to move up to the BMW M4 GT4 for the fourth round onwards. Despite it being our first time in this car and having only four hours of practice before the race, we came away with third in class.  

The main event of the year was the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. For all three of us this was our first time racing a 24 hour endurance race, and our first time driving at night. 

With extreme weather conditions throughout too, it was a crazy experience.    

Incredibly, we came away with the class victory and P19 overall as the first non-GT3 car across the line. 

To do this at our first attempt in such an ultra-competitive field, full of teams and drivers with vastly more experience than us, was a brilliant achievement.  Unfortunately that proved to be our final race of 2020, as the second lockdown came and the remainder of the NLS season was cancelled. We did get some last track time in before heading home though, with a four day official BMW test at the Lausitzring in November.

Fingers crossed our programme will restart in January, when we will begin testing in the BMW M6 GT3 for the first time. Hopefully with a full testing programme and some NLS races in the car, we can go for an attack on winning the overall 24 Hours of Nurburgring in 2021.  

A massive thank you to the UAC for their financial and moral support this season. It has without a doubt been the biggest and most important year of my racing career to date, and to have the backing of people in Northern Ireland is a fantastic feeling. 

William Creighton
William Creighton

The plan for 2020 was to compete in the Junior British Rally Championship. My aim was to win this championship and secure the €60,000 prize fund which would be put towards a 2021 Junior World Rally Championship campaign. The season started really well, as we took victory on the opening round at the Cambrian Rally in February.

I was extremely happy to start the year with a win as we had done limited miles in the Fiesta which was a new car for us in 2020 as we switched from a Peugeot 208. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus the Cambrian Rally was the only round of the BRC which would take place. 

As most sporting events ground to a halt, it was unclear when we would next compete. In July we decided that we would travel to Italy to compete in Rally di Roma Capitale, as part of the European Junior Championship. The extreme heat and technical stages made this event very challenging and a huge test on man and machine.

The rally started well as Liam and myself set 4th quickest time on SS1, within a field of 31 R2 cars. As we arrived at the first service we were 3rd in the Junior ERC – this was far beyond my expectations before the rally as I was still not familiar with how the Fiesta would handle on tarmac. Unfortunately, on SS4 we picked up a puncture early within the stage meaning we had to stop and change the wheel which dropped us down the leaderboard.

Then on SS5 we began to have brake problems which we continued to struggle with throughout the rest of the day. After a nights rest both Liam and I were looking forward to another day on the Italian stages, however it was not to be – as the car developed an electrical fault throughout the morning loop of stages which would cause us to retire in SS8.

Despite not getting to the finish, it was a great opportunity to compete at Rally di Roma and prove that we could go head-to-head against some of the quickest drivers in the R2 category. I would like to thank my Team and David Greer Motorsport for their huge effort in making Rome possible, especially during the current circumstances. 

In December I was given the opportunity to be part of Hyundai’s official test of their new R5 car in France – the Hyundai i20 N Rally2. This was a prize awarded to me on behalf of the BRC for winning the first round of 2020. I really enjoyed the experience of being part of a “works” test and learnt a great amount from the engineers and Craig Breen and John Rowan who were testing the car. 

Unfortunately I was not able to drive the car due to bad weather as a few inches of snow meant the test was cut short, however this will hopefully be rescheduled in 2021 and I will get another opportunity.  Whilst we have done little rallying in 2020 I am as focused as ever and looking forward to what will happen in 2021. I have continued to train and keep fit, with the help of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy – which I hope will begin to meet in person again soon. 

Finally, I would like to thank everyone at the Ulster Automobile Club for their continued support – it is greatly appreciated. I am sad that all of us were unable to be out at the annual It’s Not the Boxing Day lanes event! 

Hopefully I can share more rally updates in the not too distant future. 

Ben McKee

On the 10th of October I competed in the UAC October Sprint in my Micra. The weather was great for the time of year and the competition was out in force. Practice went well but I knew I could go better.  I managed to go was slightly faster in the first timed run and that happened to be my fastest time as I had a few stupid mistakes due to trying too hard.

I ended the day 4th in class 1 and most importantly beat my Dad who was in the same car. This was my second event of the year having competed in the NUCC Sprint in September where I also finished 4th.

Thanks to UAC, Kirkistown, all the marshals and the event  sponsor,  North Down House TT Bistro, without you all nothing could have run during these weird times. 

Adam McMullan
Adam McMullan

At the It’s Not the Boxing Day Rally on 27th December 2019 I was shocked to learn that I was one of the recipients of a cheque for £500 for a new initiative called Future Champions Support Programme.  I would like to thank the UAC Council for selecting me and this is greatly appreciated. 

I got involved in motorsport in 2014 when I started navigating for my dad in targa rallies when I was 12. From then I have attended many different events navigating and also attended marshalling courses which got me my marshals licence and have marshalled and helped set up at the Circuit of Ireland and  Easter Stages. Over recent months I have navigated for different drivers.

Then in 2016 when I was 14 I competed in my first autotest and had never driven a car until then so you can guess my knees where knocking together.  I enjoyed my first year’s autotesting in a Toyota Yaris, the next year I changed to a Toyota starlet which I am still driving.  In 2018 I finished 3rd in two junior club championships.  

In 2019 I won both the junior club championships for CAM and TSCCNI.  Over the summer I built a lightweight starlet which I will autotest in the 2020 season.  

I tested it at a couple of NI autotest championship rounds towards end of 2019. I drove in the It’s Not the Boxing Day Rally for the first time with my dad navigating which I really enjoyed and finished 4th in my class which I was delighted with.

This money will greatly improve my budget for my cars for the forthcoming season.

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