Shane Kelly wins ZEO Prototypes Driver of the Year award
University of Wolverhampton Racing (UWR) driver, Shane Kelly, has been named as the Praga Driver of the Year by the ZEO Prototypes Series.
Having competed the Praga R1 alongside UWR team mate Jess Hawkins at some of the UK’s best racing circuits, including Silverstone, Donington, Brands Hatch and Snetterton, Kelly topped the driver ranking of seven Praga drivers, after celebrating two class wins and one outright win.
Looking back on the series, Shane Kelly commented: “This was our first season running the Praga R1 in the ZEO Prototypes Series and the sprint race format benefited myself and Jess (Hawkins) given our backgrounds in F3 and W-series. Even with the shorter race format we had to be clever and still play a race strategy with tyres and weather changes. Being named Driver of the Year has been a great way to reward the students and the sponsors. My biggest highlight was Donington Park where we took the first Praga outright win, beating all Pragas and all other prototypes on the grid.”
Mark Harrison, Managing Director at Praga Cars UK, said; “Well done Shane! A well-deserved winner. He was one of the top drivers in the last year’s 2022 Praga Cup championship – racing hard, fast and fair and always working well with his team and the rest of the grid – so I’m not surprised with this award. The ZEO Prototypes and Sports Prototype race weekends have proved popular with the R1-owning teams and drivers which shows there is an appetite for prototypes to race in the UK with grids exceeding 20 cars. We’re excited to see this continue in 2024.”
Kelly shared the UWR R1 with Aston Martin ambassador Jess Hawkins, the team’s first female racing driver, who also recently became the first female to test an F1 car since 2018, after testing the AMR21 at the Hungaroring in September.
The UWR team, for which Kelly is a university mentor, is made up of students undertaking a variety of degrees including Aerospace, Automotive, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical and Motorsport in the School of Engineering at the University’s Telford Campus, and equips the students with real-world skills to boost their employability. A focus on diversity within the team is boosted by title sponsor, Highclear Investments, led by local businessman and philanthropic entrepreneur, Walter Gleeson, who’s ambition in backing the team is to increase diversity into engineering and motorsport, especially women.
Shane continued; “I have been very grateful to have an enthusiastic young team of students behind me all year, keeping a high level of professionalism at all times. We are fully committed to running the Praga R1 in 2024.”
Fellow Praga R1 drivers Ruben Stanislaus and Rodolfo Gonzalez were also acknowledged by ZEO Prototypes, with Stanislaus named vice-champion with five podiums, while Gonzalez finished third in the Praga driver rankings with four podiums, and a fastest lap at Donington.
The 2024 ZEO Prototypes Series will start on 17th March 2024 at Silverstone circuit as the first of five UK rounds.
To find out more about the Praga R1 visit https://pragaglobal.com/cars/praga-r1/.
All images ©Andi Rusyn www.andirusynphotgraphy.com
Communications Manager, Praga Cars UK