From Karts to Formula 4
I was bitten by the motorsport bug relatively late by modern day standards, when I started out karting at 11. I competed in a handful of races with my younger brother before taking a break due to escalating costs. Having been given a taste, I did not want to give up and together with my family, we began to look at a more cost-effective way of going about things. Formula Vee popped up on our radar and we contacted Paul Heavey of Leastone Racing who obliged us with a couple of test drives towards the end of 2017.
Once I turned 16, I applied for my Motorsport license and competed in a couple of rounds towards the end of the season. I was somewhat competitive in the few races and I enjoyed both the car and the close wheel to wheel racing that came with the Vees. As far as I was concerned, Formula Vee was the only option for a full season in 2018, both in terms of gaining car experience and wheel to wheel race craft.
Despite my limited experience, we hit the ground running in 2018 and I managed to win the opening 4 rounds of the Finol Star of Tomorrow championship, which is open to Rookies in their first season. The target was to secure the Star of Tomorrow title but I also wanted to continue honing my skills and get closer to the front of the National championship runners. Towards the end of the season, I was a consistent top 6 runner, even fighting for podiums on occasion and I was delighted with the overall progression we had made since the start of the season. Fighting wheel to wheel with the seasoned campaigners certainly opened my eyes and taught me a fair few racing tricks of my own!
All in all, I won 8 of the 11 rounds for the Finol Star of Tomorrow series, which saw me rewarded with a fully paid race weekend as part of the Monoposto Tiedeman Trophy event, held at the historic Brands Hatch circuit.
If I thought the jump from karts to Vees was a big one, the jump from Vees to slicks and wings was even bigger. Despite this, and with minimal track time due to some technical issues during testing, I was really enjoying the extra power and grip, which was really suiting my driving style. The race weekend had qualifying plus 2 races and I continued to gain confidence with each passing lap of the Kent circuit. The first race gave me a solid 4th place finish but I knew there was more time to be gained. I threw caution to the wind for Race 2 and managed to secure 2nd overall, in just my second race on the Monoposto grid.
Looking at budget figures to 2019, it was a no brainer to commit to the full 2019 Monoposto season, as I knew it would further my slicks and wings knowledge, while gaining valuable knowledge of fast flowing tracks such as Brands, Silverstone and Donington Park.
Again, we hit the ground running, with a double podium in the opening rounds at Donington and continued to gain pace over the first half of the season. Another couple of podiums were attained before my breakthrough win at Castle Combe in June. I backed this up with a memorable win on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in very difficult conditions. I missed out on winning the championship but finished runner up in my first season of UK motorsport and I was delighted with the knowledge I had gained over the course of the season.
The season was capped off in great style as I secured a nomination for the Motorsport Ireland Young Driver of Year for my performances in June. I was selected for the final three but ultimately came up short but I was still extremely honoured to make the final cut. On the back of my Monoposto success, I also got the opportunity to test a Formula 3 car at Silverstone and compete in the final round of the FIA SEA Formula 4 rounds at Sepang, Malaysia. My experience throughout 2019 meant that the jump to the more powerful F4 car was not all that huge and I managed to grab a podium finish in the final round of the season!
So in 2 short years I managed to jump from Karts through to Formula 4, presenting a decent account of myself with each step! Between the racecraft learned in the frantic races of Formula Vee, to the power and grip of the Leastone 1000 in Monoposto, I am well placed and looking forward to the challenges of whatever 2020 might bring!