Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young driver of the year Eoin Murray was crowned European Alfa Romeo Champion following his second place finish in round 10 of the European Alfa Romeo Challenge at Valencia Spain on Saturday 1st October.
Eoin qualified fourth on the grid and got up to third by the first corner. The opening laps of the race saw the top five cars make a series of challenges until race leader Antonio Chacon went off followed shortly afterwards by Championship contender Maurizio Campani who was forced to retire with a badly damaged car following a number of robust challenges. The race then settled down with Italian driver Fantini in the lead from Murray. Knowing that a top ten finish was now enough to win the Championship Eoin settled for second place and eschewed the possibility of challenging for a win.
Speaking at the press conference afterwards a delighted Murray said "I am delighted to have won the championship my team PRS Group gave me a really good car for this season. I have had to keep championship position to the forefront of my mind this year and race for position and not necessarily race wins. This strategy has paid off with still another race to go. A European Championship is a major achievement and the prize of a World Touring Car is a major step forward for my career".
A problem with the rear axle saw Eoin qualify ninth on the grid for Sundays race and with the Championship safely secured he relished the challenge of Sundays race where he could push 100% . Getting by fellow Irish driver Emmett O Brien in the run to the first corner he picked his way through the field to sixth on the fourth lap. A broken seat bracket resulted in him having to retire from the race but afterwards he was philosophical when he said "we were struggling with the balance of the car all weekend but for this race my engineer struck the nail on the head with the setup and gave me a perfect car which enabled me to catch the leaders and achieve the fastest lap. When the seat gave way after six laps I had to come into the pits. I am not too disappointed as this is my only non-finish in the season"
Winning the championship crowned a magnificent season for Eoin however it should not disguise some other notable achievements, nine podium finishes out of eleven races, lap records at Valencia, Spa & Magny Cours. Four ‘pole positions’ and five ‘fastest laps’.
Asked about plans for next year the new European Alfa Romeo Champion said "its early days yet but we are in talks with a number of WTCC teams and are working to put a budget together to compete in WTCC in 2006 however there is a lot of hard work to be done over the coming months"
Eoin paid a particular compliment to his sponsors and supporters when he said "This Championship Victory would not have been possible without the support and backing of Alfa Romeo Ireland, Holfeld F1 Components, Motorsport Ireland, Gary Aaron Homes, Carnegie Sand & Gravel, Bill Griffin Motors and I am very thankful for their support."