Kerry’s contribution to global motorsport engineering

Kerry’s contribution to global motorsport engineering

By Sean Moriarty

County Kerry has become a breeding ground for talented motorsport engineers if recent success is anything to go by.

From the pinnacle of Formula One Grand Prix racing to the FIA-approved World Rallycross Championship and, of course, the World Rally Championship, Kerry is influencing the world.

Last Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit was one of the most exciting and entertaining Grand Prixs in a long, long time.

Mexican driver Sergio Perez driving for the BWT Racing Point F1 Team driver won his first ever Grand Prix after recovering from a first lap incident that placed him 18th and last.


His team mate Lance Stroll finished third to record the first double podium for the team that morphed out of the Jordan F1 team of the early 1990s. In fact, the current team, and after several owner and name changes, still operates out of the factory founded by Eddie Jordan all those years ago.

There is a Kerry engineer on the squad.

Sósanna Ní Dhubháin is the Senior Composite Designer engineer with the Silverstone-based team and she can trace her roots to Smerwick Harbour in West Kerry. She often spends her summer holidays back West, where he father Tomas fishes for lobster, and her brothers, accomplished musicians, are often found busking on the streets of Dingle.

“Wow what a race, never thought this day would come,” she said. “I can now say I’m a race-winning designer. What a car. Great work from everyone on the team, all the hard work and effort paid off,” she said on Sunday night after the race.

There is no doubt that an entire parish of West Kerry will be watching Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final round of the 2020 campaign.

Meanwhile in the world of Rallycross, Firies native Richard Browne is facing an uncertain future after his employers, Volkswagen, announced last week that it was to cease all motorsport activity from the end of the year.

It was a bitter blow to the Hanover-based Browne who, only days earlier, celebrated winning the FIA World Rallycross title with his driver Johann Kristofferson.

It was the third time that the Swedish/Irish combination had lifted the biggest prize in rallycross.

However, all is not lost, and the German manufacturer has said that all staff would be re-deployed into other areas of the group’s automotive interests.

KRISTOFFERSSON Johan, (SWE), SLR Volkswagen, Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR, portrait during the 2019 FIA WTCR World Touring Car cup of Portugal, Vila Real from july 5 to 7 – Photo Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Two possibilities remain for Browne, an electric road car programme in Wolfsburg or a chance to join Audi’s 24 Hours of Le Mans programme which was also announced last week.

“Yes, bit of a shock, but they secured everyone’s jobs by absorbing them into the group, probably in Wolfsburg,” said Browne. “We have to figure out if we can swap directly to Audi or Porsche, but we may have to first move into the main group.”

Whatever happens, the Firies man can hold his head high.

Aside for his success in Rallycross, Browne is also a double World Rally Championship round winner having engineered Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen’s two wins at world-level, Spain 2015 and Australia 2016 while working for the Volkswagen Motorsport II team.

“We had a good run, and did some amazing things,” added Browne.

There were other reasons to celebrate local success in the World Rally Championship this season after Hyundai were declared the manufacturer world champions following last weekend’s title decider in Monza, Italy. Craig Breen and Paul Nagle played a part in that success following their seventh place in Sweden in February and their historic second place on Rally Estonia in September.

2020 FIA World Rally Championship Round 04 Rally Estonia 04-06 September 2020 WRC, Action, Day 2, Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC Photographer: Fabien Dufour Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

This article was originally published in the Killarney Advertiser.  Kerry Motorsport News is the motorsport content provider to the Killarney Advertiser.

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