Donnelly driver heads for the top

Michael Nutt (right) and his co-driver, Jimmy McKeefrey (left) receiving their trophy last year from a NI rally official.
Michael Nutt (right) and his co-driver, Jimmy McKeefrey (left) receiving their trophy last year from a NI rally official.

A County Derry man is fast becoming one of the top names in the world of Irish car rallying.

Michael Nutt won class one at the Northern Ireland Rally Championship when he competed for the first time last year and has now clinched the title for the second year in succession and will receive his trophy early in the New Year.

“I was delighted when the team won last year but it was thrilling to go out and win the title for a second year,” he said. “We were 14 points in front of the next driver.”

Michael, sales manager with Toyota at Campsie has experienced rally man, Jimmy McKeefrey as his co-driver in the team Donnelly and Taggart 2000cc Honda car.

Castlerock man Michael has only been rallying for three years but the Nutt- McKeefrey team is now certainly one to be reckoned with.

To win the title the team scored maximum points on three of this year’s rounds, the Mourne Rally, Kirkiston and the Ulster Rally

which incorporates a round of the Northern Ireland and British championships and Irish Tarmac championship.

He started off in his first season driving an historic Mini which he inherited from his father Dessie winning his class in the first rally he entered. After that he switched to production series group N cars which have all the standard features plus additional safety equipment to make them eligible for production series rallying.

The switch was made then to the Donnelly and Taggart team as the company was awarded the Honda franchise for the whole of Northern Ireland.

The team now rallies with a Honda Civic type R. “It’s an ideal car for rallying because of its reliability and performance,” said Michael.

Michael has also been thinking of events on the world scene and competed for the first time as co-driver in the East African Safari Rally in Kenya which includes some of the world’s top drivers.

“I was with Steve Truman in team Tuttle and we finished 14th overall driving a Porsche, including setting the fastest time in the final stage. It was a tremendous experience mixing with a number of previous world champions including household names such as Stig Blomquist and Bjorn Walderguard.”

Michael has been sales manager for the past four years but the motor trade has been in his blood for his father is also in the sport and he competes regularly in the British and Irish historic championships.

“Rallying is an amateur sport but it takes a lot of time and effort to compete and we couldn‘t do it without the help of our sponsors and volunteers,” said Michael.