Issue 5

Page 1

THE PIT STOP issue 5

q u a r t e r l y

m o t o r s p o r t

m a g a z i n e



8 18 28 42 60 IN SHORT

A LICENCE TO THRILL The history of the Aston Martin LM3

THE GRAND TOUR Johnny Tipler explores the 30th edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2000

THE RETURN OF BRABHAM David Brabham explains the return of the infamous brand

HYDROGENERATION NEXT Ash Miller gets up close and personal with the Mission H24 hydrogen Le Mans car

FROM VIRTUAL TO REALITY A look at Jimmy Broadbent’s rise from sim racer to fully-fledged racing driver.


JODY SCHECKTER: REFUSING TO FAIL On the 40th anniversary of Jody Scheckter’s F1 debut, we look back in detail at his career

THE ROAD TO DAKAR The outfit looking to become the first all-British female crew to complete the Dakar Rally

THE CURIOUS CAREER OF RAIKKONEN Edd Straw reviews the career of 2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen

THE FLYING SCOTSMAN The impact Rory Skinner is making within British Superbikes

AN ASTON ASSESSMENT A look back at Aston Martin’s first season back in Formula 1

GOODWOOD AS IT GETS A deep dive into the Goodwood Members’ Meeting


70 94 106 118 128 128 THE FOUNDATION STEP




ust like that, 2022 is upon us and another year begins. 2021 ended in spectacular style from a motorsport perspective, with the World Rally Championship going right down to the wire at the season ending Monza Rally, while Formula 1 stole the headlines after incredible scenes at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen emerging victorious after the shambolic handling of the safety car period at the end of the race. No matter what the intentions were, the FIA’s sporting decisions tarnished what had been a brilliant season, and rightly or wrongly, questions will always remain regarding whether Verstappen should have won the title or not. But prior to the season finale Formula 1 lost an absolute giant of the sport. A man who helped change the face of Formula 1 and who turned so many drivers into world championship material. Frank Williams was a true pioneer, a man who never knew when to give up and stop. Having started with nothing, he turned Williams F1 into one of the most successful teams of all-time. Alongside Patrick Head, Williams worked from the ground up and went on to produce some of the most exciting and competitive grand prix cars of all-time. When I first started watching F1 everything was about Williams, Nigel Mansell and the ‘Red 5’ FW14B. In the iconic blue and yellow livery, the car was almost unbeatable. Mansell dominated 1992, securing the championship title at the Hungarian Grand Prix and while a lot of people will remember that year for his achievements, for me, it’s all about that car. Williams had put together the strongest team in F1 history up until that time. With Adrian Newey designing the car and Head overseeing the engineering side, Williams produced a car that was so technologically advanced, that rules had to be created to reign everyone in. It had active suspension, traction control, ABS, all mod-cons that would never be seen on an F1 car nowadays. And while I do agree that they don’t have a place in F1 these days, the fact that they were invented, introduced and performed to the greatest of standards in the early 1990s is outstanding. For me, that year epitomises everything Frank Williams was about. The intensity, the drive, the lack of mercy and win at all costs attitude. Of course, as the championship grew and finances played an ever crucial role in the success of a team, Williams began to lag behind and by 2019 it was languishing at the back of the grid. Some will say that Williams stayed at the helm for too long and should have done what Sauber did before, by selling the team off. But that wasn’t Williams’ way. He was addicted to motorsport, addicted to racing. It’s what made him who he was and why he was so successful during his tenure. All good things must come to an end, and however sad it is, so must life. Sir Frank Williams will be sorely missed from not only F1, but also motorsport in general. He might not live on in body, but his name and racing spirit definitely will. Rob Hansford Editor

EDITORIAL Editor Rob Hansford Photography Editor Brian Smith Contributors Adam Proud, Ash Miller, Ian Page, Edd Straw Photography Contributors PHD Photo, Rob Overy, Ed Waplington, Matt Widdowson, Stacy Guiney THANKS TO Ian Cunningham Art, Claire Scheckter, Jody Scheckter, Martin Gilchrist, Matt Bishop, Sara Page, François Granet, Dean Faulkner, John Hardy, Classic Motor Hub, Moto Historics, Goodwood Estate COMMERCIAL ENQUIRIES Enquiries 6 | THE PIT STOP





hat comes to mind when you think of Aston Martin? The suave elegance of the DB series made famous by James Bond? The Vantage raced in Le Mans by Aston Martin Racing? Or maybe the deep racing green of Aston Martin Cognizant, the automotive giant’s Formula 1 team bought out of the ashes of Force India/Racing Point by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll. Whatever images are conjured up in your head, Aston Martin is embedded in the cultural identity of Britain. From the grand touring cars of the 1950s and ’60s to the prestigious job of supplying motorcars to the Prince of Wales - a job undertaken since 1982 - and, as we come into the modern day, a brand which is cropping up in places like real estate, aircraft and even submarines. A lesser-known side of the company is its pre-war racing history, which includes many great and beautiful cars, including the stunning LM3. Company director Augustus Bertelli, an enthusiastic racer with considerable experience, was keen to promote his Aston Martin brand in as many international events as he could. With Le Mans 24 Hours being the most prestigious event, it was a race that Bertelli long wished to feature in. As such, Bertelli set about building the “LM” series with the LM prefix distinguishing these race cars from the run-ofthe-mill production vehicles. The third of seven pre-war cars built by Aston Martin between 1928 and 1931 to compete in international races, the LM3 is the only hand-crafted Works Team Aston Martin that was built in 1929. It’s also a car that was raced by Bertelli himself on several occasions. The fact that Bertelli was one of very few manufacturers who actually raced their own cars, made him perfectly placed to modify his designs. His mantra was “racing improves the breed” and he believed that being successful in motorsport helped and aided product development of road cars. He felt the lessons learned on the track could be used in the production of road cars and that winning races was good for the overall brand image - something that of course is still true today. The LM3, which currently resides at The Classic Motor Hub in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, is historically speaking, quite significant. The “new sports model” of its time, sitting at the sharp end of international racing. Production on LM cars was almost an art form in itself. Parts were chosen very carefully with a great deal of modification to lighten them. Axles, steering

box brackets, bulkheads and other small components were drilled in such a way to make them fractionally less heavy. Aluminium was used to re-make parts previously made from bronze. This was later changed to eletron, a magnesium and aluminium alloy used to re-make those parts originally made from aluminium, helping to keep weight to a minimum. Those involved in the car’s manufacture looked for improvements wherever they could, and a lot of these modifications later made their way across to production cars. The gearbox and wheel ratios were also given special attention, selected to maximise the top speed. Different gearbox ratios were tried in order to optimise the best possible ratios. With the LM3 in particular, third gear was set up in such a way that it was only a few hundred revs different to fourth gear which enabled a quick change from third to top and back again. But it didn’t stop there. The engines were carefully assembled and tested in Aston’s racing department. Having their own test shop and dynamometer meant that all those different engine components could be easily tested. The engine output for the team cars was approximately 7 – 10 % higher than the production engines being produced at the time. The LM3 was spoiled for bodywork and had four different bodies in three years, including a snug “stubby” tailed 2-seater body with no doors and then later a more conventional four-seater body. The width of brake shoes, which make up the brake drum, were increased from 1.3" to 1.5" with a pivot for each shoe. All of this combined with a lighter chassis and bodywork, meant the LM cars had a considerable edge when it came to performance, and they were a very competitive car within their class. The LM3 in particular had a short, but interesting racing career. Making its debut in the first ever double 12-hour meeting at Brooklands in 1929, it was driven by Bertelli and chief mechanic Jack Bezzant and finished fifth. The “Double 12”, Bertelli’s race, came about because 24-hour racing was not allowed at Brooklands due to noise restrictions. The event was divided into two daylight sessions with the cars locked up overnight. In the same year the car entered the Irish Grand Prix at Phoenix Park in Dublin. Split into two separate handicapped races, the Irish GP consisted of the Saorstát Cup with vehicles up to 1500CC and then the Éireann Cup with vehicles over 1500CC. Driven by Bertellli and Bezzent again, they achieved ninth in the Saorstát Cup. The LM3 had a third outing in 1929, with the car taking part in the RAC Tourist Trophy, the world’s oldest






continuous motor race, which in that year took place on the Ards Circuit in Northern Ireland. At the time it became Northern Ireland’s premier sporting event, attracting huge crowds. Sadly, despite the occasion the LM3 failed to finish the race thanks to an alleged engine failure. At the start of the 1930s another entry was added to the book for the Brooklands Double 12. This time the LM3 was driven by chief mechanic Jack Bezzant and, as records show, fellow Aston Martin driver Sir Roland Gunter. Sadly for the British duo, they failed to finish. Now, it’s also worth noting when it comes to Brooklands, there was more than one Aston Martin taking to the track in the same race. Newspaper articles from the time of the 1929 and 1931 races show at least one other Aston Martin. The assumption is that it was a different Aston Martin, rather than a second or third LM3, as any record of these entries do not appear on any documents specifically related to the LM3. And as mentioned earlier, the LM3 was the third of seven works motors, all built at different times. The joy of researching old motor vehicles, especially


ones that pre-date WW2, is that it’s very much like piecing together a jigsaw. There are lots of little details, bits of information that all help to make up the bigger picture. However, not all these pieces fit and with the LM3 in particular, there is an awful lot of contradicting information… In many ways this all adds to the mystery. Only the privileged few know the true story and I think it all adds to the special status this car holds. From 1931 onwards the majority of the LM3’s short but sweet racing career had come to an end. The team had to alter the original bodywork as it was in fact too light, and it later became the works test road car which was lent out to journalists to drive and test. However, the LM3’s journey was still not quite complete. In 1932 a decision was made to sell it to racing driver Peter Farquharson. After re-registering it, Farquharson drove it in the 1932 LCC International Relay Race at Brooklands, sadly notching up another retirement in the car’s final Brooklands outing. By 1935, the LM3 had been sold on to St John Horsfall, a British racing driver who sadly died in an accident in the 1949 BRDC International Trophy at

Silverstone, having clipped a straw bale at Stowe on lap 13 and rolled the car. Incidentally Horsefall was also employed by the British Secret Service during WW2 as a specialist driver and took part in Operation Mincemeat, a disinformation operation to convince the Germans of an Allied invasion in Greece rather than Italy, but that is a story for another day. Horsefall raced the LM3 in the five-lap handicap race at Donington Park in 1935 and took the first of his many wins in an Aston Martin and thus giving the LM3 a winning send off. Despite its competitive racing career coming to an end, if we dig a little deeper, the records kept at Aston Martin show that the LM3’s journey still wasn’t over. By 1935 the car had been sold to an ‘R Churchill’ and then on to a David Elwell-Smith in 1963. Well-known Aston Martin historian Jim Young was next on the list of owners. Nowadays, the LM3 is jewel in the crown at numerous automotive events such as the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance in Florida, the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, in California and the Mille Miglia: an open-road motorsport endurance race

established in 1927 to 1957, and later revived in 1982 as a road rally event. Was it any wonder the motoring press found the Aston Martin an excellent car? What journalists were actually testing were often thinly disguised works racing cars? LM models were often sold on to wealthy young men with money to burn and owning such a car would have been as much of a status symbol and it would have been thrilling. Regularly featured in numerous vintage car magazines, the LM3 is truly a relic from another era. The time of gentleman racers tearing round dangerous street circuits. Men in sheds innovating and inventing, pushing the automotive boundaries of the time. A time where racing drivers were also secret agents. I wonder if given the choice, Aston Martin’s current secret agent 007 himself would fancy taking this amazing slice of pre-war engineering for a spin. I think the LM3 certainly has a licence to thrill!






the grand tour


This year’s 30th edition of the Tour Auto OPTIC 2000 took a fascinating array of 230 competition-based classic cars on a 3000km itinerary through sublime south-eastern French countryside. WORDS BY JOHNNY TIPLER IMAGES BY MATHIEU BONNEVILLE, JULIEN HERGAULT, JOHNNY TIPLER



he Optic 2000 Tour Auto is modern-day incarnation of the legendary Tour de France Automobile, an event first run in 1899, and ran sporadically until 1950 and then until 1986, counting towards the European Rally Championship from 1970 until Group B cars were banned in ’86. From 1950, the Tour was organised by the Automotive Club de Nice, and a typical edition was 1954’s test, which covered 6000km from Nice-to-Nice, going all the way around France, with nine special tests along the way. Some of the sport’s most evocative names won the Tour through the ’50s ’60s and ’70s: Olivier Gendebien, Lucien Bianchi, Vic Elford, and Patrick Depailler, in iconic machinery such as the Ferrari 250 GT and GTO,


Lancia Stratos, Ford Mustang, and Renault 5 Turbo, taking on prosaic vehicles such as the humble Citroën 2CV on the open roads of France. Like the bicycle race, the Tour ventured into neighbouring countries to visit circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps the Nürburgring and Monza, as well as French tracks including Clermont Ferrand, Paul Ricard, Dijon-Prenois, Le Mans and Reims-Gueux. It was a serious business: for instance, of the 122 starters in 1963, only 31 reached the finish. The event was revived in 1992 as the Tour Auto, open to pre-1974 cars, and taking in race circuits and hillclimbs across the country on a four-day itinerary. The modern Optic 2000 Tour Auto is run by Peter Auto, who are also responsible for Classic Le Mans and several other historic race series. The 230 entries

are divided between Competition and Regularity, the former consisting of competition cars and the latter inclined towards rigorous timekeeping. There are fewer this year, but nonetheless awesome without exception. Many entrants take the Tour very seriously but, in any case, it’s a wonderful excuse for a road trip around the honeypots and watering holes of rural France – la France profonde – bookmarked along the way by special stages held on more remote racetracks. Accordingly, my colleague and I jumped into my Boxster S and headed for Paris. With a finish at Nice the route would encompass the cities of Dijon, Valence, Nimes and Aix-en-Provence, with stages at Dijon-Prenois, Bresse, Ledenon, and Paul Ricard circuits. The itinerary changes year-on-year, and this year’s

starting venue was Grand Palais Éphémère on the Champs de Mars (close to the Eiffel Tower) in central Paris. There’s scrutineering, greetings, and general familiarisation with route books, and fine tuning, and the entire line-up takes the form of an exhibition of the finest road-going competition cars imaginable. Next morning, the massive field of classic machinery moved off on the 30th edition of the Tour Auto, forming a giant articulated convoy from the capital down to DijonPrenois circuit, formerly host to the French Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Grand Prix de l’Age D’Or and 1000km endurance races, for everyone to take to the track. The winner here, perhaps not too surprisingly, was the Matra MS650 of the enigmatically-named “Mr John of B” / “Sibel” with the lonesome Ford GT40 of Didier


Sirgue / Géraud Dunesme in third place. The Matra’s victory reprised 1970s Tour de France Automobile when two MS650s were entered, driven by top French drivers Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Patrick Depailler, JeanPierre Jabouille, Gérard Larrousse and Henri Pescarolo, winning two years in a row. Larrousse attributes his subsequent deafness to spending a week with an unsilenced V12. After the special stage on the Dijon-Prenois circuit, the retinue filtered into Beaune in the heart of the Burgundian vineyards and, with rally cars assembled in parc fermé, many found the town’s bistros irresistible. Next day, the retinue moved on to the Circuit de Bresse in the Saône-et-Loire region. One of the highlights was the presence at the head of plateau three of a pair of Ferrari 250 GTs, a reminder that this iconic Ferrari was also dubbed the 250 GT Tour de France in honour of its successes in the early 1960s. However, it was the single Ford GT40 that emerged victorious at the end of the day’s first stage, closely followed by the two AC Cobras of Ludovic Caron / Emile Lecomte in #205 and Christophe Van Riet / Eric Werner in #210 in hot pursuit. The big American V8s generally hold the upper hand


in the competition section, while the regularity class is more the province of cars like the Renault Dauphine Gordini of Vincent Mouret / François Cardon, where outright performance is not crucial. Every Tour Auto is a lesson in French geography and topography. After Bresse, the crews got back on the road, traversing the magnificent Jura mountainscape, pausing for a breather at Les Oyonnax, close to Geneva in the Auvergne’s Ain department. The second day drew to a close at Aix-Les-Bains, due east of Lyon, overlooking Le Bourget Lake and close to the Massif de Chartreuse in the Alpine foothills. As each car passed through the ubiquitous inflatable arch, day three got under way, heading a hundred kilometres south to Valence, perhaps more familiar as a stopover on the Monte Carlo Rally. The breathtaking landscape was all very well, but the mountain road hairpins challenged the prototypes on account of their limited turning radius, which apparently no one had thought of when planning the route. The Shelby Cobras of Christophe Van Riet / Eric Werner and Ludovic Caron / Emile Lecomte that had been disputing the lead was settled when the French car had an off-piste excursion and

was obliged to retire, leaving the Belgian Cobra in front. Unphased, regular campaigner Caron declared, ‘the Tour is always magic!’ Other vehicular casualties were the 1953 Ferrari 250MM of Diego Meier/Giacomo Amoroso and the 1971 BSH 003 prototype of Segolen/ Thierry Guiton, both of which suffered stove-in front corners. On the other hand, this section suited nimble cars like the Porsche 914/6 of Stéphane and Victor Peculier: ‘the 914 handled like a go-kart around the hairpin turns’ commented Stephane; ‘great in terms of Competition, but if you were in regularity, you had to restrain your right foot!’ The regularity classification after the day’s second special stage was more complicated, with two cars sharing first place - the Ferrari 275 GTB of Oscar Brocades Zaalberg / Vincent Drapeau on equal points with Jerome and Catherine Laurant’s MGB. For competitors, it was another 7:30am start with the rising sun bathing the ruins of Château Crussol

high up on the crags to the west of the Rhone opposite Valence. Destination was the spectacular gothic Abbaye de Bouchet, and the day’s programme included over 300km of transit sections, two special stages, and a few laps of the Lédenon circuit. For my colleague and I, the day was memorable for other reasons. Lurking in ditches on bridge parapets and roadside banks we ogle every car as it comes by: Ferraris, Cobras, Lotuses, Maseratis, Lancias, Mustangs, 906s, 911RSs and RSRs: the whole gamut of mouthwatering motors trickled past. Far better to see them in action than congregated in echelon in the lee of a chateau however picturesque – though the social aspect is important for many of the regulars. The trick for snapping the rural stages is to identify them on the map, head to an interesting corner or two, move around a bit then leapfrog the next stage to catch the cars at the subsequent one. With this in mind we motored out of Valence and hit the autoroute





heading south - and got apprehended for speeding. We caught up with the Tour at Lédenon circuit 25km north of Nimes. Lédenon is a slightly unusual track, in that its lap is run anti-clockwise like the former Aintree and present-day Austin and Adelaide. Once on a lap, this is of little consequence, and it was the onset of rain that diluted the drivers’ experiences on the myriad ‘Micky Mouse’ bends. World rally star Ari Vatanen and François Chatriot rose to the occasion in their BMW M5, executing masterful crowd-pleasing broadside drifts through the turns. Ari said ‘my car is a BMW M5 CS with 635bhp: it’s fast and furious, and not everybody can do this on the fabulous Tour Auto.’ Leader of the regularity grid after this fourth stage was the Ferrari 275 GTB of Brocades Zaalberg / Drapeau, while the first three cars in the competition category were the glorious-sounding Matra MS650, the Porsche 911 2.3 ST of Beck / Schaffer, and the media duo Pernaut / Cohen in their Alfa Romeo 1750 GTAm – all three completely different in respect of powertrain locations. Overnight destination was Nîmes, with crowded parc fermé adjacent to the arcaded Roman amphitheatre. Highlight of the final day was the visit to the legendary Paul-Ricard circuit at Le Castellet. Scene of countless heroic episodes, here was the opportunity for Tour Auto contestants to fully exploit the performance

of their cars on the 3.8 km blacktop. Linked to the equally spectacular Route Napoleon, the final stretch took the retinue past the perched villages of the Var region, including Fayence, motoring down to Nice on the Mediterranean for the final pass beneath the Tour’s inflatable arch on the Promenade des Anglais. Winners in the Competition class were Christophe Van Riet and Eric Werner in their Shelby Cobra 289, ahead of the Jaguar E-type of Sébastien Berchon and Sébastien Bordier and the Shelby Cobra of Damien Kohler and Sylvie Laboisne. In fourth in their Porsche 904 Carrera GTS were Claudio Siriani, Jean-Marc and Patricia Bussolini, while GP star Thierry Boutsen piloted a 2.0-litre 911 to fifth. Marc and Thomas Jay in their Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF headed the Regularity section, followed by Jean-François and François Nicoules in their Mercedes-Benz ‘Gullwing’ 300 SL and, notably, Jean-Luc George and Jennifer Hugo placing 6th in their Lotus Cortina. It was more about the taking part than achieving high placings: as Porsche 911 racer Gaby von Oppenheim remarked ‘We arrived at the finish okay and we ran a lot in between, and we didn’t achieve a particularly high placement. But who cares? The Tour Auto is always an incredible experience, and the main thing is that it was a lot of fun.’ It was time for us to spin the Boxster around and embark on the long haul back to Blighty.












he seasonably-apt rain makes light work of its way through the thronging crowd standing on the rise overlooking Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch, huddled under a tsunami of brightly branded umbrellas and logoemblazoned parkas. Their eyes are glued to the crescendo of noise and blurs of colour signalling the final fling for the 2012 British Touring Car Championship, and as the muffled echoes of the circuit commentator reverberate around the wide open space in competition with the symphony of exhaust notes, I have to speak with heightened volume to the gentleman sat just across the wooden picnic table, a little further behind the backs of the onlooking masses. Despite the grey skies providing a typically English backdrop for us as we chatted, David Brabham’s focus of conversation was pinned on the land of Bier and Bratwurst over the channel. Embroiled in a legal battle over the Brabham name and copyright with a plucky German, David was stoic in his determination to wrestle the Brabham name back under family control. Shadowed by his legendary father Jack through the majority of the legal proceedings, the youngest Brabham son was looking visibly battle hardened in revealing the plight he faced ahead. Fast forward to 2021, and under a sky more akin to the Great Barrier Reef than Great Britain, a resplendently-poised David Brabham extends a hand to greet me as we walk to the door nestled in the grand facade of a building still carrying the charm of the World War 2-era airfield it inhabited. Navigating through freshly painted corridors still carrying the ghosts of their former air force glory days, David leads the way through to a similarly paintscented office space, bare but for the desks and a smattering of chairs. “We only just moved in this week, so there’s a fair bit still to go”, David announces as we wheel two office chairs in tandem to be occupied. “The window sills have been painted, but the vinyl samples are still on their way.” The scene is fitting of the very brand that now emerges from the ashes of a tumultuous decline into the annals of motorsport history; Brabham’s uneventful final season in the top flight of open wheel motorsport finished among a whisper of its’ former championshipwinning glory, with the lacklustre BT60B scoring a season high of 11th place in the hands of Damon Hill at it’s swansong appearance in Formula 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, before disappearing from the fraternity after 30 years in the sport. It was during the years that followed that the Brabham name was acquired by the aforementioned German Michael Trick,

along with Franz Hilmer, who attempted to revive the Brabham name with hints of Formula 1 interest in 2010. However, this revelation was just a part of the turning point for the Brabham family, and particularly David, who was casting eyes to the horizon in the twilight years of full time motorsport competition. Steaming green tea in hand and leaning forward in his chair, his voice reverberates around the plangentfriendly room, as he casts his thoughts back to the inception of the battle for Brabham. “The idea of doing something different other than just being a professional racing driver happened when I was 40, so 15 years ago. I was thinking ahead, thinking what am I going to do when I’m 50; I’m going to be too old, too slow, and no one is going to want to pay me to go and drive!” He leans back in his chair with a creak as he reflects further. “I didn’t think of retiring, that’s never come into my head. I’ve always thought that there was another part of the journey.” That journey began under the most stressful of guises, as the battle to wrestle the Brabham name back to the family began in 2005. “We had the iconic racing name Brabham, but we hadn’t done anything with it; Dad [Sir Jack] would do little deals around his name but they didn’t really excite me at all, and I felt there was a lot more potential - I wanted to see Brabham turn from an iconic racing name into a global brand. “I sat down with my dad and spoke to him about any trademarks and protection not that I knew a lot about it, but I knew that we had to have protection…Dad had done a great job, and sent through what he had in terms of protection, but we found we had some gaps that had appeared.” Although David had taken it upon himself to close the foreseeable loopholes in the protection of Brabham, it was only when he registered the name in the UK, and was faced with rejection, that the true nature of the upcoming plight surfaced. David sits forward again now as he dives headlong into the saga, green tea still in hand. “To me and my father’s surprise, and disgust, Mr Trick had registered the names Brabham and Brabham Racing. I felt that if I didn’t go to court and get the name back, the dream of getting control back with the family and having future plans with it would be out of our hands.” The legal ramifications would be long, arduous and taxing; the case went through the courts in Germany for seven years, with the back-and-forth of cases and appeals bringing the gladiatorial face-off to the higher



courts. Despite the exhaustive longevity of the case, as 2012’s final snow-dusted days ticked away amid a burst of short sunlight and cold nights, good news arrived, carried by Santa Claus. “On Christmas Day 2012, we won the case; [Trick’s] trademarks were squashed, and ours was finally accepted. It was a massive relief; it certainly took a financial and emotional toll on myself and my family, but we were able to then start picking up the pieces, and go from there.” The iconic Brabham name was now back with a Brabham at the helm, and publicly recognised for the


first time since Sir Jack Brabham’s own still-unmatched record-claiming tenure of championship-winning manufacturer-driver ended at the conclusion of the 1970 season, when the team was handed over to legendary designer Ron Tauranac briefly before ending up in the hands of the mercurial Bernie Ecclestone from 1972. Now armed with the Brabham name, David’s focus was aimed at the task of bringing that name back to life. He gestures to the invisible pit-lane as he notes that, “I would walk down the pit lane and paddock and see all these racing names, and walk down the high

street and see these brands, and would think ‘wow, what a difference’; the question then turned to how I can turn this iconic Brabham name into a brand, and would need someone to help.” As stars smile favourably on those who take chances, fate would intervene when David penned a deal for the 2012 season in the BlancPain Endurance series with now-McLaren boss Zak Brown’s United Autosports. With Brown’s United brand already being established as a powerhouse in motorsport, David was introduced to the mastermind behind the branding and those stars aligned.

“I met a guy there (at United) called David Mitchell, who was doing their brand as well as Zak’s personal brand. We struck up a rapport, and spent 18 months doing research, networking and making effectively the first ‘brand bible’ for the brand.” The Brabham brand arrived as the British summer burst into life in 2014, and Project Brabham was rolled out as the first step on the road to a meaner, modern, multi-faceted motorsport marketing model. With initial efforts aimed at a crowdfunding model, the strategy made for an engaging way to not only announce their return, but also involve swathes of fans who




put their support into the project. Now in the public consciousness, Brabham had cleared the first hurdle. We take a quick break to be shown around the newest home for Brabham’s operations, as the mention of ‘brand’ spurs David into a flurry of proud activity. He walks through the temporarily barren spaces to showcase where the logo will live, the carpet swabs, and the layout of the soon-to-be boardroom, which for the moment is adorned by a still-impressive array of silverware and personal effects detailing just a smattering of the similarly glittering career of David Brabham. Echoes of Le Mans victories, F1 outings, sports car triumphs and family heirlooms give a starryeyed glimpse into the Brabham past - but the proposed layout is testament to the sheer intent stirring among the momentum of future plans. “We initially looked at a Virgin-style business structure, where we could be a brand accelerant with partnerships…but we wanted something that warrants the name and the right audience. Eventually discussions lead to talks with a company in Adelaide, Australia, with Fusion Capital.” Among a plethora of typically varied business ventures, Fusion Capital were purveyors of pressed metal components for the Australian automotive industry; servicing the then-major manufacturing hubs of Holden, Ford and Toyota for Aussie consumption, the company were producing voluminous amounts of parts. Amid a dawning of a ‘post-production’ era of Australian car makers entering their final phases of home-grown models, Fusion teamed up with Brabham to initiate a change of scene, additionally taking over the resources of an existing carbon fibre specialist. Partnering with some of the best in the business, including Wirth Research, whose roots trace back to Brabham’s Simtek days in F1, the project has been peppered with design and aerodynamic talent. We walk through the echo of our own footsteps back to the seats, carpet samples finding solace on the table as we settle back into the groove. He muses into the middle distance as he recalls the early days of the Brabham resurgence. “The ultimate goal to begin with was to create a car to break the lap record at Bathurst, and it did that, but it developed from there to become a product we can take to market and become the ultimate track car.” That ultimate track car was presented to an unwitting public at Australia House in the thronging metropolis of central London; unveiled as the tide turned from spring to summer in 2018, the motoring world was left with gaping jaws at the elegant and evocative green-and-gold BT62 gracing the marblesaturated surroundings. The lithe, aggressively-poised new weapon came out of the relative wilderness, stunning the assembled cohort with a double-barrelled sucker-punch of performance and prettiness, flavoured further with a dusting of the globally recognised


Brabham brand’s re-emergence. “That was one of the best parts, it was so stealth. We were testing in Australia with a camouflaged car, and if anyone asked, we told them we were working on a bespoke project for an overseas investor, and not many people really questioned it, keeping the Brabham name away until right at the last minute. Someone mentioned that at the time it was released, it was the

second most popular search on Google, after a new movie coming out. So it was a pleasant surprise.” It made waves for a reason; the car unleashed upon the unsuspecting audience sported a 5.4L V8 spewing 700 horsepower, 492 ft/lb of torque, and enough downforce to suck the 972kg to the roof of the tunnel in Monaco. Coupled with a string of limited edition paint schemes to bedeck the carbon fibre monocoque

in classic Brabham liveries, it came as no surprise that the BT62 made headlines as the slickest car to lap the famed Bathurst asphalt. Having stated it’s intentions resoundingly, and with interest now piqued from London to Lithgow, the project picked up momentum; a mammoth task of not only bringing a car to market, but also manufacturing the limited run of 70 units to bring to the table, was


achieved with typical doggedness that has seen David succeed at the highest levels of motorsport. Which, as was always sure to be destined with anything carrying the famous Brabham moniker, was where the BT62 ticked off its next milestone; competing in the BritCar Endurance Championship’s final round at a sodden, saturated Brands Hatch, at the end of 2019. The half-drained green tea in David’s hand is now rapidly cooling; a fact not noticed by the holder, whose

demeanour lights up once again as he reflects upon his return to the competitive cockpit in a car bearing his own name. He smiles as he shares. “We did the BritCar Into The Night event at Brands Hatch…It was miserable! It was two degrees, and the rain was relentless. We went racing to show what the car was capable of - myself and Will Powell - but we won it. I was in the car at the end; My dad won the British Grand Prix there in a Brabham, and I crossed



the line in my own Brabham, driving down Brabham Straight to do it. It was a really special moment, and especially great to have done it and won it as it kept the momentum going. The Brabham DNA has always been in racing, so to achieve a win on the first outing was a great success.” The car’s compliance and confidence-building prowess have been of particular note among the lucky few that have given the car a shake down in anger. David’s own experience has been a key part of the car’s handling strengths, which were designed to make, in his own words, a supercar that “anyone can drive to a good pace comfortably.” The car’s double-wishbone suspension is mated with four-way adjustable Öhlins dampers, working in sync with adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, all while riding on 18-inch centre-locking wheels and Michelin rubber. The end result is a wellbalanced, excellently-pliable track-focused machine, delightfully devoid of the traditional supercar tendency to want to terminate the driver if they feel tempted to push the extremities of the machine’s own limitations. Exhilarating, yes; but not death-defyingly intimidating. Racing, however, is just a bit part in the new BT62 story. Flashback to the lavishly represented Salon Prive’ event at Blenheim Palace in 2020, and the beautiful candy-red BT62R road going version is attracting the lion’s share of attention among palace gardens dripping in Mercedes CLK-GTRs and McLaren Sennas. A windtussled lawn is worn down around the Brabham, heads turning and tongues wagging in sublime company, at a machine that was only ever going to do just that on the road. “When the car was launched, we were asked; can we drive it on the road? Can we race it? So we made the three different versions - the road, track and race - to cater for those accordingly. So you’ll see the different versions on the roads, and the circuits, across different countries.” A quick flick of the wrist makes us both aware that time has run out all too quickly, and upcoming arrangements call. As David bins the now-cooled dregs of green tea, he turns his thoughts once again to Sir Jack, and he muses on the lessons learned. “My dad was the kind of person that, if he said something, it would go right through you. As any parent would tell their kids, you learn something new every day, and I’m still doing that. I think that has carried over through many things that I’ve achieved in my life, and the older you get the more you have an understanding for what those words really mean. I now have a different perspective on a lot of things that I cast my mind back to. But something I’ve learned all the way through is despite the curve balls, if you lose faith, you struggle. In my world post-racing, everything I have learned has been far more significant than anything I learned in racing. You need the support of your family and friends, as well as the right people, and there is

an element of sacrifice as there has been in racing, we have all been on a journey to get here. It all stems from intent, and from there, the determination to make something of it.” One such story that piqued my interest was what transpired from a turning point in his mentality, during the support race for the 1987 Australian Grand Prix. Campaigning a Ralt RT30, carburettor and electrical problems halted his progress in Qualifying, placing him a lowly 38th in the grid for what was then a single-race Australian Formula Two Drivers’ Championship. Feuding with his famous father over the course of the weekend, and spurred on by a mixture of anguish and sheer bloody-mindedness, David found another gear. Finding his intent, and channelling the determination to make something of it, David transcended himself; rising the occasion in front of the assembled Formula 1 cohort, David carved his way through the field, taking the lead on lap 13 and pulling out a further 1.7 second lead to take the chequered flag just two laps later. He would later say that this shift in mentality was one of the most poignant turning points in his career; fuelled by raw desire and harnessing his frustration, he exhibited the mentality that would prove to be the defining doggedness he would become synonymous with. Despite the million-pound price tag, the Brabham BT62 has been a resounding success for the fledgling phase of Brabham reincarnate, and a true testament to this very mantra that success is born from resilience, effort, and doggedness. The resonant creaking of chairs signals the end of today’s catch up, as coffee cups are discarded and papers are tidied ready for the afternoon’s engagements. As I rise, my eyes are drawn to a couple of glimpses of the Brabham past on the desk - candid printed photographs of a shaggy-haired David, blueand-white overalls hanging loosely and face grinning proudly during his debut outing with Brabham Formula 1 team in 1990, shadowed by his famous father. They say history is destined to repeat itself, though in 2021, the vibrant return of Brabham is the sort of history many would be elated to see take a second bite of the biscuit. We wander out to the car park, and a quick exchange of pleasantries follows, till we catch up again next time. The sun makes for a welcome change of ambiance to the weather, and through squinted eyes, a brief mention of a follow-up project to the BT62 brings me to my next line of questioning; what comes next for the Brabham marque? This line of questioning, however, is met purely with a glint in David’s eye, as he smirks wryly, and utters, simply - “you’ll see.” If it’s anything like the BT62, Brabham will well and truly be back.








he fog is beginning to clear as the temperatures rise toward the right side of zero, revealing the nondescript French countryside through which I am carving nonchalantly; nine hours on the road the previous day, and an early start to follow, my eyes are still adjusting to the myriad of shades of winter grey that drift in and out of view. Eventually, as my sat nav prods me into life by revealing my destination is upcoming, a set of equally unremarkable green gates signals my arrival at the Lurcy-Lévis circuit, situated in the rural Auvergne region in central France. Despite the modest surroundings, the little airstripcum-test-circuit has seen its share of world-class machinery, evidenced by the multitude of colourbleached photographs hanging in the tiny upstairs briefing room featuring names of the likes of Hakkinen, Belmondo and Comas in various states of being either within, or somewhere near, their Formula 1 test chariots. They cut a strange figure. World class grand prix teams running the very same cars that would feature on the global stage, snapshots of a bygone era that would be unheard of in modern day realms of simulated test programmes, yet today, as I find a space among a smattering of cars off to the side of the car park, I’m met with the modern-day equivalent of those fanciful glory days. Silhouetted against the semi-tamed surroundings,


a crisp white transporter adorns the paddock area, angular awning outstretched alongside, buzzing with a team of uniform-clad, earphone-wearing engineers. The wave of excitement is palpable; just the same as the cutting edge of motorsport once graced the subtle circuit, the very forefront of motorsport technology has once again landed among the farmhouses of LurcyLévis. The duo of imposing cars, while to the untrained eye resemble conventional modern Le Mans prototype technology, signal a revolutionary step forward in the future of competitive motorsport. Far removed from the familiar propulsion of petrol or diesel, the bodywork strips back to reveal perhaps the most exciting development in motorsport for decades - hydrogen power. I’m met immediately, and enthusiastically, by Francois Granet, the public driving force behind Green GT and their clean technology initiative, and he escorts me excitedly over to see the cars as they lay exposed, one more than the other, as it gets attended to after a camera-friendly photocall run around the greasy rainspattered circuit. Both machines, their initial 2018 iteration dubbed the LMPH2G, and their massively improved latest prototype the H24, although modest in their design, resemble the biggest step forward for sustainable motorsport for decades. Adorned with a Plastic Omnium-pioneered carbon composite pressurised

hydrogen fuel cell capable of containing up to 700 bar of pressure, the first version of the technology pumps out up to 653hp, driven through electric power, and although the original sits pretty at a hefty 1420kg, the renewed second coming is an astronomical step forward; further refined delivery of power, and a reduction of a massive 450kg in weight bring the H24 a rural-French-country-mile ahead of its original counterpart. The third iteration is very much in the works, and promises to be a totally bespoke chassis, further refining the packaging and balance of the car to mark another milestone in clean energy development. Shadowing the second of the cars with eager eyes, and speaking to the now-assembled small cohort of French journalists and guests, Team Manager Pierre-Lou Fleury explains the technology with eagerness. His eagerness, while delightfully expressive, is not met with my comprehension however, as my French is at best ‘limité’, and so my first meeting with H24 project development driver Stephané Richelmi is as translator for the complex engineering rundown. He explains; “The technology is very exciting. The airbox above the cockpit collects the air, which is then combined with the hydrogen in the fuel cell to encourage a chemical reaction. This creates energy, which fuels the battery, and feeds charge into the battery to then propel the car. The only byproduct, or waste, is water.” Monegasque Richelmi, whose experience ranges from Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2 to the World Endurance Championship, details his own excitement. “The step between the two cars is incredible, already, after only two years of development. I have been

involved for only one year, and have done most of my driving with the newer car. To drive, it’s not that different from a conventional endurance car - it still has four wheels and a steering wheel - but, no gearbox, which is a big difference under braking, as we don’t have the gears to use to downshift and help slow the car down. With a gearbox we can use the gears to make the car less nervous, but we don’t have this kind of tool in the H24, but for the rest, it’s like a big go-kart with a lot less sound!” However, this is where the similarities between traditional ideology and modern technology deviate. “I’m busy in other ways over a lap. Exiting the corner, the car is powered by both the battery and the fuel cell, but as soon as we can we cut the battery, otherwise it will drain quickly. To maximise the power over one lap, as well as for a race, you need to strategise how the energy is used. “However it’s exciting, it’s like driving a laboratory, they can do anything and go anywhere with the direction of the car which is great compared to a conventional car, you’re finding seconds with this new technology whereas conventional cars are at the limit of their development capabilities. The evolution has been huge, and the opportunity to develop the technology with such wide possibilities, not restricted by traditional rules in a championship, is incredible.” His eloquently condensed technical briefing makes way to a wider awareness of the gravity of the project; flanked by MissionH24 Team Principal Jean-Michel Bouresche and Director of Innovation Bernard Niclot, as well as representatives from the French governing body Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the weight of


THE AURA OF EXCITEMENT IN THE AIR, HELPED BY THE BRIGHT-EYED CONVERSATIONS, IS ALMOST TANGIBLE motorsport might is in situ to witness the cutting-edge project in action. Niclot, an experienced senior member of the ACO and project leader for the new Hydrogen-powered H2 category, is himself vibrantly excited about the development. “The most exciting thing about this category is not only how the project will develop for motorsport, but also how it will develop to be used in a wider global context for sustainability and green technology,” he quips enthusiastically. “We are making plans for the new category, which is aimed at competition, but still with keeping costs down in mind. There are already nine teams that have expressed interest in the new category for 2025, and the teams will have to develop their own fuel cells and hydrogen technology. However, we are also developing standardised parts, which will help to keep the costs down while keeping the competition sustainable and healthy. “Of course, one of the biggest challenges is weight. To be competitive you need to bring the weight down, and with the materials needed to keep 700 bar of Hydrogen on board, physics can only be pushed so far so we need robust materials, and this comes at the


expense of lightness. In developing this, however, we are seeing big steps forward.” He continues passionately. “It’s incredible to see the progress, and be a part of it, in the car as well as the refuelling systems. Motorsport has always been at the forefront of mobility technology development, and as with the case of the turbocharger being developed through racing from being really quite poor technology in the 1970s to being widely used today for efficiency, exploring how this new green hydrogen technology will be implemented in the real world going into the future.” The aura of excitement in the air, helped by the bright-eyed conversations, is almost tangible. Not least, it must be said, because I will have an opportunity that very few journalists, indeed people, have had the chance to do - get to drive the LMPH2G. I’m encouraged to first, however, take an eye test on site, and was introduced to the revolutionary digital optometry tools that MissionH24 partners Essilor have been pioneering. I was examined using the latest technology in eye analysis, and after adequately passing the exam via a realm of exceptionally impressive hardware and software, I was cleared to take to the circuit.




Faben Boukla


Having changed into my suit, and with helmet in hand, my mind is automatically transitioning from ‘journalist’ to ‘driver’, almost akin to (but not as dramatic as) the cartoon-like image of Clark Kent exiting the phone box as Superman. I grill Stephané on the finer technical points of driving the prototype, and two decades of racing experience begin to bubble to the surface, as notions of brake pressure, steering feel and minute seat-of-the-pants sensory changes in trajectory begin to take precedence. Stephané is first in the driver’s seat, and takes me for a couple of swift laps of the Lurcy-Lévis circuit. “You have to be more aware of the braking, as you don’t have that safeguard of gears, and with the weight, you have to make sure you are sensitive to that,” he tells me, muffled voice elevated over the jet-engine-like whine of the propulsion system, as we approach 260kph at the end of the airstrip segment of the circuit which, if you imagined hard enough with the amalgamation of speed and sound, could trick your mind into being prepared for imminent take off. He brakes hard at 200 meters, conservatively for the dry, but in the wet, the rear makes its bid for freedom as we turn in. A quick correction and we are right again. “You can get on the throttle early, the battery is still cold so it isn’t at full power so you can make amends with some early throttle”, he muffles once more as we rocket out of the end corner.


Although there isn’t much change from one-and-ahalf tonnes of weight, the car’s grip is impressive for a first-generation prototype. We end the lap in a flurry of oversteer, and Stephané steps out, handing over the reins to a somewhat focusriddled version of me. Stepping into the car is like being transported into another realm. Although the newer version has its’ battery situated in the passenger side for better weight distribution, the original iteration’s passenger seat now has a stoic Stephané Richelmi being bolted in, no doubt wondering just what to make of the unfamiliar set of race gear being strapped into the drivers’ seat. As the belts are tightened almost to the point of rendering any future plans for children useless, Stephané talks me through the sequence to get the car running. First, the battery is turned on, then, the hydrogen cell, all in various stages within a sequence demonstrated by a colour-coded array or lights on a simply-labelled dash. He explains what each gauge symbolises on the small screen mounted just above the driver’s line of sight to the left; battery temperature, rate of charge, the level of the fuel cell, and the appropriate steering wheel controls to manage and monitor all the parameters that make up the car’s systems. The paddles, traditionally set for gears, are for adjusting the battery to control temperature. The right hand wheel adjustment above the thumb sets the

traction control. It becomes very clear, very quickly, that this is an altogether different form of motorsport. My attention is diverted by the sound of the driver’s door being lowered, in a way that Tom Cruise would have been familiar with in Top Gun, and the sound of the systems booting up to full capacity is punctuated by Stephané - “Okay! All good. Off you go!” Despite the alien nature of the car, surprisingly, it feels right at home. The seat position is ideal, with Stephané and I sharing the same space on the height chart, and with a gentle squeeze of the throttle, the electric whir starts to wind up. The throttle feels pliable; the power is not yet at full potential, but it’s linear, as well as responsive. The steering is light enough to turn smoothly yet the feel is positive. After a few turns, the racing head is in full flow. We burst onto the back straight and the torque builds; although the battery is still at 60% power, the acceleration is fierce. The smoothness of the torque is glorious; without gears, the curve is progressive under foot. We approach the braking zone at the end of the back stretch, hard on the brakes a little early as the feel dials in, and the car responds. The weight is noticeable, as the car once again protests against my attempts to arrest the inertia, a little adjustment to bring the bias forward and the car behaves itself once again. Stephané gives me subtle hand signals in the early

corners, to point out where to accelerate, where to brake and where to look, but soon they melt away to the occasional thumbs up. Every corner the confidence builds, and the terminal speed rises. By the second lap, the movements of the car are read more by the backside than the frontal lobe, and the car begins to dance predictably; a snatch of opposite lock as the rears attempt to flee under heavy braking, the balance of the car protesting politely against physics. The LMPH2G is as easy to read as the end result of the eye tests done an hour prior. The final lap blurs past all too quickly, as a silent Stephané is forgotten momentarily, veiled by concentration and exploring the limits of adhesion in a machine that already feels as familiar as your favourite Auntie. An index finger enters my peripherals, gesturing toward the pit entry racing up ahead of us. All too soon, it’s time to come in. We roll to a halt, as the right buttons are pressed to wind the car down. A plume of water vapour follows us in, and few could be forgiven for expecting Marty and the Doc to step out from the cockpit; instead, a French racing veteran, and an Australian counterpart. As to who was who in their movie roles, that’s open to debate. “The car is very, very easy to drive”, Stephané reflects as the helmets come off. “Very predictable as you see, but the battery still has another 30 or 40



Faben Boukla


percent to go, the conditions aren’t warm enough right now to really get the most out of it, but, you’ve seen now, it’s very easy to steer, before you have to start playing with the energy!” Indeed, the ease at which the car felt at home was surprising. Although the car was totally unique, the power plant behind you becomes a tool that you’re only too happy to use. The drama is largely in the way the car moves around, lacking any symphony of 10 pistons trying to evacuate from a metal case behind you, and yet the absence of this traditional choir of combustion you have a sound akin to a Learjet approaching final take-off. It’s strangely mesmerising. Still coursing with adrenaline, I make my way to the team’s truck, where I find a horizontal Norman Nato taking five. Feeling a bit worse for wear post vaccine booster, he had handed the day’s reins over to Stephané, but as I sat down opposite him, he came to life when describing his role in the project. “It’s a different challenge and it’s a new type of thing to learn, because to get the most out of the car is very complex. The first time at the factory I was having the systems explained to me and I had to stop them and say okay, guys, I am lost! To learn though it has been very interesting, and the experience for me in LMP2 and Formula E has really helped to understand the H24 more, you have a lot of things to manage in both of those, and it’s helped to really start to get the most out of this car. “What I like with this technology is that there is a lot more to do than just pure driving. I love to drive to the limits of a car, but for me as well, technical things are what I like, so to use that to try and gain some tenths in a different way is fun. We are looking for seconds at the moment but in a few years, we will be looking for two or three tenths, and it won’t be from braking a few metres later, it will be from managing the battery temperatures, the fuel cell, and using the tools you have available to be the fastest. It’s still really new so we are learning to adapt.” He shifts more upright in his seat, the conversation steered by his newfound energy, and he reflects on the future of the technology. “This is the future of motorsport, so for my career, it will need to be in cars like this to move forward. Being involved with something like this is the cutting edge of the future and it’s great to be at the front of this technology. It’s still being seen where this development will go in years to come but I didn’t want to miss being a part of what looks like the future for motorsport.” The technology, indeed, although new to motorsport, has been in development for some time for the domestic market. Hydrogen propulsion has been

steadily developing over the last decade, but with the MissionH24 programme extending the limits of what is possible every day, the everyday use of the materials for both efficiency and durability has rapidly progressed from futuristic science fiction, to a viable and reliable alternative to the traditional duo of internal combustion and electric power. Trudging out of the transporter, I met face to face with Vincent Lavigne, head of external communication for Plastic Omnium’s clean energy system division, who was eyeing over proceedings with composed adulation. He beams as he describes his involvement. “We are really excited to be developing the technology in partnership with MissionH24 for motorsport; it’s a laboratory of innovation, and the objective is to apply what we learn with this project to standardise the results and apply it to passenger cars for a day-to-day basis. “The high pressure storage has been the biggest challenge, specifically the high pressure and depressurisation management during the refuelling, and the temperature. You’re faced with a lot of fuelling and defueling, many times in a very short time, and the exchange of pressure and temperature is a big challenge because it’s still brand new. Most of the improvements have been through the weight of the materials and the technology used to make them; initially the tanks were metal, but the latest developments have made use of a composite tank, with a thermoplastic inner layer and carbon fibre and fibreglass webbing on the exterior, which has made the newer tanks 40 percent lighter.” The car by now has been wheeled back to the transporter as checks post run are being made. Patiently standing at the nose of the car is Aurelien Mallet, a name few in traditional motorsport circles will know, but who represents the humanoid version of the cutting edge future poignantly taking its place under the awning. A five time world e-sports champion, Aurelien is here to get a first hand sample of genuine real world machinery. He shifts his weight from leg to leg as he looks on eagerly. “My experience in the real world is very limited, so it’ll be quite an experience. I’m just looking forward to getting in and having fun. The g-forces compared to the sim will be very different, and it doesn’t have engine braking so that will take some getting used to.” Aurelien will be next in the car. Or would have been; the engineers address the systems on the car after finding an anomaly, and as the light fades, so too does poor Aurelien’s chance to step behind the wheel. Fortunately for him, he will have the following day to make amends.



Faben Boukla


The future for the team looks increasingly bright; the heavy support from green energy partners including Michelin, who are developing efficient and recyclable tyres for the cars, and Total Energies, endorsement from the ACO, and the addition of another name driver in ex-McLaren pilot Stoffel Vandoorne, the goal of reaching Le Mans for 2025 is well on track.


However bright the team’s future may be, the remaining illumination of the damp and overcast day begins to dip into shades of purple, and although the engineers tinker tirelessly, the rest of the assembled cohort trickle their way towards their various homes. Climbing into my own car, with a cheery wave from many of the team, I swing between the now

Faben Boukla

much more poignant green gates and head similarly towards the stay for the night in Sancoins, just fifteen minutes up the road, with a head full of reflection. The image of the two cars laying blissfully idle alongside the transporter, graced by the anonymous Lurcy-Lévis backdrop, burns its’ final seconds into my line of sight before disappearing in the rear view mirror; and like the

world-renowned Formula One teams before them, the MissionH24’s fantastically futuristic, technologically groundbreaking mark has been left on the tiny circuit. A far cry from when the car will find its way to Le Mans in just a few short years, but, a no less noteworthy historic chapter in the future of motorsport.









n recent years sim racing has risen to the fore. The advancement in technology and affordability means it can now be enjoyed by the masses and the software embedded in some of the programmes means that the track layouts, surfaces and cars are incredibly realistic. For most people it’s a bit of fun, something to do in your down time after work or on weekends, but for others, it’s the first step on the road to becoming a fully fledged racing driver. Racing drivers have long been using simulators as a way of practicing, to keep match sharp in between races, but they are always quick to say that it is completely different to the real thing. Of course, in a simulated environment you can hurtle around the likes of Silverstone, Monaco and Suzuka at insane speeds in the knowledge that you can come to no harm. There’s also the fitness aspect. In some racing cars you can experience huge amounts of g-forces going through certain corners, but there’s no way of achieving that on a sim rig in your house. On the face of it, taking those points into


consideration, it would seem almost impossible for a sim racer to jump from the virtual world into the real one and instantly be competitive, but one individual is proving that that’s not quite the case. Although Jimmy Broadbent had no real racing experience prior to last year, you could argue that his racing career actually began 10 years ago when he was 21-years-old. “Sim racing started for me back in 2012,” Broadbent told The Pit Stop. “I’d always played games like Gran Turismo on a controller and I enjoyed doing that type of gameplay. But then I just wanted to do a bit more and I saw you could buy steering wheels, and I’d always been aware that they were there, but for some reason I never made the connection to go and buy one. So I went out and got one. Spent an entire pay cheque on a PC and wheel so I could go and do it. I didn’t eat very well that month! I then just immersed myself in that world, just driving everything I could find and that eventually led to me doing things like iRacing, which is competitive and long and short, got me to where I am now. But it all started just with a controller and a Playstation.”

Praga / Dom Fraser

Although the likes of Gran Turismo gave Broadbent a keen interest in car racing, it was the realism in iRacing that helped him to really develop his skills. Gone are the days where tracks are completely two dimensional on the screen in front. They are now so realistic that you can see and feel the bumps in the road, experience the amount of camber there is in the corner and the braking points for corners are almost identical to real life. “I did a lot of online racing in Gran Turismo 5, and with GT5 it was more you get online and maybe you get a good race, maybe. Maybe you wouldn’t. In iRacing every race is treated as a real race, so you can actually go out there and take it seriously. You don’t get people coming up your inside from two and a half years back, you know, proper moves are made and it’s treated properly. So once I saw I could do that, and because I was a massive racing nerd, it was like ‘oh yeah, I’ve got to get involved in that’, and it just took that sort of the way you drive and the way you approach races to a lot closer to what it is in the real life as opposed to GT where it’s jump in and have a bit of fun.”

Like so many other sim racing enthusiasts, Broadbent never had any plans to become a racing driver. He enjoyed competing on the sim, but knew that racing was hugely expensive to get into, which made it almost impossible for him to begin. But with the popularity of his sim racing YouTube channel taking off, Broadbent was asked by McLaren if he wanted to drive a GT4 car, and from there everything changed. “To be honest, there was never any plan to get into real motorsport or anything,” said Broadbent. “I thought it was out of reach because going racing is just horrendously expensive. Like you can either have a house or drive a GT3 for a year. That’s basically your choice if you’re paying to go racing. “But for me, I actually thought I want to get into it myself very slowly with my own car. I’ve got a turbo [Mazda] MX-5, a bit of a ‘turbo coffin’ for a bit to be honest. It’s now progressed into a more serious time attack car and that’s always been going on in the background, but my first opportunity driving a proper race car came with McLaren and HTC Vive. “I remember how scared I was getting into the car

for the first time. I remember them belting me in, telling me how expensive it is, what you’ve got to do if it breaks down, all that stuff, and I was like ‘can I just go and drive please?’ That all went really well in terms of I think I drove fairly ok. It was the first time so I was a little bit nervous with braking and stuff like that, but all the basics were there and from that I think it was like ‘ok, I can do that now’. So that idea in my head to actually getting out, thinking I can drive something started to grow.” Having had a taste of what it was like to get behind the wheel of a real racing car, Broadbent made the decision to take up karting and he took part in Club 100 with his friend, Steve Brown. With his sim racing knowledge and confirmation that he’s capable of driving a GT3 car, Broadbent assumed he’d instantly be quick behind the wheel of a go-kart, but he quickly found that karting requires a completely different driving style. “I thought I’ll be shit hot. I’ll be great at this. Easy, it’s karting right? And I wasn’t. I was so slow in the first race. I didn’t understand how to drive it, it’s so different. Such a nuance to driving a kart and then I did about a year of that and got the hang of it.” During the COVID pandemic, lockdowns meant that Broadbent was confined to his sim for a lot of the time, but it was during this period that he received an offer that would enable him to embark on a dream that had previously felt so distant. “I got a call from Mark Harrison who’s the affectionately called ‘boss man’ over at Praga and he just rang and described the guest driver programme which is what I was part of this year, and I thought ‘ok, cool, he wants me to do a video on it and show the world that he’s doing it’. I’d had that before with manufacturers calling me, saying can you come and make a video about this guy racing to promote it. Usually I say no because it’s not the content I do, but Mark said ‘we want you to be one of the drivers, Jimmy. Are you interested?’ “I thought he was winding me up, but the more I listened to him the more it was like this is a serious thing. Then a couple of months later I’m there at Anglesey driving the car for the first time. So yeah, that was pretty mad.” That test at Anglesey was an eye opener for Broadbent. Not only was the R1 totally different from anything else he had driven in real life before, it was also the first time he had the opportunity to drive a racing car in full anger and it was a moment that left him with some anxieties. “We were staying in a hotel nearby and on the first day of testing a big part of me was like I can’t go, I

shouldn’t go, like I shouldn’t be here. I’m a sim racer, it should be given to somebody who can do it. A lot of imposter syndrome stuff going on in my head and a lot of anxiety as well because it’s an expensive car. “I thought if I walk away from this at this moment, I’ll never get the chance to do anything like that ever again, so I thought well just jump in and do it, and when I first came out the pitlane, I remember it so vividly, I came out of the pitlane, went to third gear really early, then got onto the straight and settled myself. If you don’t floor it…you have to do it straight away. You have to feel what it’s like otherwise you’re not going to get over it, and it was everything that I thought it would be. “You’re sitting there with a massive grin on your face going up the gears and then the corner comes up quicker than you think it does, but after that moment, that test session, everything I already knew sort of came back and the voice telling me I couldn’t do it disappeared. So it was nice to overcome that.” The Britcar championship began at Silverstone in 2021, and although Broadbent was lacking any racing experience, he discovered quickly that there were a lot of transferable skills he could use from sim racing, and it enabled him to be on the pace right from the off. “There’s a surprising amount you can bring over. In the first race at Silverstone, bearing in mind it’s my first ever race in a car with downforce. I’d done a couple of races to get my National A licence so I could actually drive the thing, but that was MX-5s, there’s no downforce in those things. So in my first race I think I had a quicker practice time than my team-mate, our qualifying times were very similar and I had a quicker race time than my team-mate, who was last year’s champion. And that was all with no prior experience. “It was just the sim stuff. Knowing where to brake, how to attack the corner and there was still a lot of time to find whilst I was out there driving. I ended up getting a driver coach to help me extract it because coming from nothing, it’s difficult. But, that and also how to manage traffic, because in Britcar, we were in the Praga which is the fastest car in the field, multiclass race. There are GT4s out there, touring cars out there and getting past them quickly is part of a good race. “I think I was better at that than my team-mate because I’d done that so much in sim racing. That’s exactly the same. Reading what the guys are doing in front of you. Is he dodgy? Is he predictable? Yeah, ok, he’s seen me, and then I go. That thought process is exactly the same in the sim, but obviously the g-force did take its toll. My neck gave up towards the end of




Praga / Dom Fraser

the stint. The sim didn’t give me that!” Like any racing driver, Broadbent’s season was full of highs and lows. Along with team-mate Jem Hepworth - and Gordie Mutch, who partnered Broadbent for the final round at Donington - they finished fifth in the championship, and the season finished on a high at the final event of the year, with a double win at Donington. A mid-table finish coupled with two victories isn’t a bad way to start your racing career, and Broadbent is happy with his achievements, even if a part of him - like anyone racing - secretly hoped for more rostrums. “I went into the season thinking ‘great, I’m going to get through it and survive to say I did a season in racing’ but after the first race I was like ‘right, how do we get a podium? How do we win?’ Maybe it’s something in me competitive I guess, but I just couldn’t deal with the fact that the mindset was switched. I needed to win. “The goal from the start since then was just to try and get on the podium and we just couldn’t do it. We had a couple of mechanical problems throughout the year. They were really just electrical that was to do with the steering wheel on the Praga. The car itself was faultless, just some of the components that had been bought and put on the car from elsewhere didn’t quite do the job properly. “But yeah, I’ve experienced the good bits and the bad bits. So I think I’ve now got a good season of experience now and know what to expect and how to react to those things as well because the first time I had a mechanical problem, it was testing at Silverstone. We


had an issue with gear selection and I was like ‘what do I do here? I’m stuck in this gear, what do I do?’ And you’re there at pit speed trying fourth gear, trying not to stall. You can’t really prepare for those things, but that’s what experience brings I suppose.” Experience counts for everything, especially in the world of motorsport, and it’s Broadbent’s experience with Praga which has made him decide to remain involved with the brand for 2022. “It’s been really nice working with Praga because they sort of didn’t expect me to jump in and be a hero,” explained Broadbent. “They knew what was going on, they knew it would need a bit of time, a bit of work and they’ve always been super supportive. I think they are also happy I didn’t damage any of their cars at any point this season, so they’re very happy with me because of that. “But the engineers are very supportive. They’ll always come over and say ‘there’s a couple of things I’ve noticed, you could gain a bit of time here’ and no one’s ever been overly competitive or anything like that. I hate the phrase, but it’s like a big family, just trying to make the best for everybody there and where I had the opportunity to have another go at it I was like ‘yeah, of course I do’. “The car itself is such a joy to drive, it’s so fun, and I think I’m finally getting into the stride of the car and how it works after Donington, like the only way is up now. So getting a chance to almost reset and do it again, but now with more experience is really cool. Heading into a single-make championship will bring

Praga / Dom Fraser

on totally new challenges for Broadbent, with every driver having equal machinery, and he is expecting there to be involved in some tougher racing battles throughout the season “When we were the Pragas in Britcar, there was almost like a bit of camaraderie because the Pragas are tiny little cars and we are racing against GT3 cars for overall wins. Obviously it doesn’t really mean anything, but you want it as a driver, and the Nissan GTR is left-hand drive and let’s say you are trying to make a move up the inside of Stowe or something and the guy doesn’t see you, and it happened to me a couple of times. It happened at Donington, but going up Coppice, coming on to the back straight, I had the GTR in front of me, and it’s so slow compared to us through the middle sector. We’re looking anywhere around it, but on the straights it just leaves us. “So I had to make this move up the inside of Coppice and I was fully on the astro on the inside because he just didn’t see me. I’m convinced we had a little touch. The highest point on the Praga is the air intake above the cockpit and that comes up to the GTR’s wing mirror, so that’s how small we are. “Everyone was there to survive in Britcar, but now in Praga Cup I think it’s going to be a lot more aggressive because we are all in the same machinery, all on the same level playing field and I think it’s going to be a bit more fighty. “Donington is a great example because people were fighting for a championship. I think it’s going to be like that all year.” While Broadbent is excited to be forging out his own racing career and he’s doing it entirely for himself and his own pleasure, he also takes satisfaction from the fact that his success is proving to people that sim racers can be quick in a real life situation. “I think I’ve shown the racing world sim racers can go out there and do it. I know we’ve had examples in

the past, but people used to use James Baldwin a lot as an example, and I love James. A great guy, very fast in a real car, but he was a racing driver before he was a sim racer. “For me, my first ever motor race was Buckmore hire karting when I was 28. I’m 30 now. If someone who is completely new and has only done sim racing can get in and win a race in a fairly decent championship then I think it shows that maybe motorsport and maybe the older people in motorsport who don’t like all the sim stuff, maybe they should be taking notice of this and see how valuable it is. And he’s exactly right. In a sport that is completely dominated by money, sim racing offers drivers who can’t afford to spend over £100,000 a year on a drive in a regional championship a place to learn the foundations of racing. Sim racing might not be able to give you the experience of g-force that you’d experience in real life or give you a full understanding of the extent of the camber in some of the corners, but there’s so much that can be learnt. You can learn basics such as the racing line and braking points to how to navigate through traffic and race alongside others safely, all the while it not costing a huge amount of money or danger to anyone else. Broadbent may not be racing in the likes of Formula 1 or Indycar, but that’s not necessarily the point. What he’s doing has proven that it is entirely feasible for a quick sim racer to join a respectable championship and be competitive right from the off. Of course it’s an unconventional route into racing, but there’s nothing to say it’s the wrong route to take. And with money being a major barrier to competing more than ever, Broadbent is proving that sim racing is one answer to kickstarting a racing career.






jody scheckter: refusing to fail

jody scheckter’s career choices may have at times seemed unorthodox, but it all culminated in a world championship title in 1979 with the infamous ferrari WORDS BY ROB HANSFORD IMAGES BY PHD PHOTO / CAHIER ARCHIVE


any Formula 1 drivers have careers that rise to a certain point before plateauing off as their time in the championship staggers to a halt. Very few have careers that are on an ever-upward trajectory, one that never stops rising until the driver stops, but even fewer have the sort of up and down career that Jody Scheckter experienced during his time racing in the category. Growing up, Scheckter couldn’t really escape the world of cars and motorsport. His dad owned a garage


and his uncle raced cars, most notably in the 1937 South African Grand Prix, so it doesn’t take much of your imagination to see how Scheckter ended up following a career in the industry. “I loved the workshop.” Scheckter tells The Pit Stop. “Nearly all my holidays I went to the workshop and worked there (I was pretty useless at school) and I enjoyed that. “I remember my dad had an ITOM. It was an Italian 50cc bike and he got a racing one that was in the showroom. I used to go after school and sit on it all the time. That was when I was 13 or 14 or something and then I started racing that a little bit. Then as soon

as I turned 18, I got my licence and my dad gave me a secondhand Renault 8. I went to work and back, and I went once and then it went up on stands and the next time it came down it was on the first race. “I prepared the car myself. The normal Renault had single valves, but the Gordinis had a five-speed gearbox and this special head and adjuster which was very rare. “There was a guy that had bought one of them. The whole thing had burnt out, everything was melted. I bought it from him for 50 rand or something and went and got it filed and everything like this. And that’s the only way I could get to be competitive and eventually I was beating the works cars.”

Having accomplished his first foray into the world of motorsport, Scheckter decided to see where his racing talent could take him. The only feasible way to get to the highest level of racing was via Europe and so after winning a “Driver to Europe” award in a South African Formula Ford race, he packed up his bags and moved halfway across the world to try his hand at Formula Ford in the UK. “I came over here with I think it was £3,000 or something like that and [Formula Ford] were going to give me a car and a trailer. I bought a secondhand car from Colin Vandervell. It was a very successful car. I told them to deliver it to Brands Hatch, I had no tools or anything and that was my first race at the Race of Champions. “It was wet. I don’t know where I was on the grid, but I was running second, then spun and then went through the field and came second. “All of the Formula 1 guys were there at that time which is always quite interesting and I remember Jackie Stewart came up to me. He came and said ‘hi’, which was for me, a little guy, it was a real privilege at that time.” After a successful outing at the 1971 Race of Champions, a race in which he also got the fastest lap, Scheckter settled down for a full season in Formula Ford using a Merlyn. But having arrived in the UK with limited savings, Scheckter knew he needed to find work in order to be able to remain long term, and who better to work for than the team providing you with a chassis to go racing with. “I went to work with Merlyn as a bracket maker and then I did some welding. They had an old Formula 3 car which they were going to give to a French guy, but he had an accident or something, so I said ‘can I borrow it?’ Firestone lent me a set of tyres from South Africa and Holbay lent me an engine. Then I went and crashed mainly, but I was beating the works Lotuses at that time and then we had a big crash at Crystal Palace.” And a big crash it was too. On the penultimate lap of the Formula 3 race at Crystal Palace, Scheckter arrived at a corner side-by-side with Vandervell and Dave Walker. There was no way three cars could fit into the right hander and Scheckter locked his wheels whilst driving up the inside of his two rivals. It resulted in Scheckter making contact with Walker’s Lotus who in turn collided with Vandervell. Both Walker and Vandervell ended up in the wall and immediately out of the race, but Scheckter refused to give in. Despite the fact that he had his left rear wheel trailing at an odd angle behind him, he tried to continue, but his efforts ended up fruitless with the damage eventually forcing him to retire at New Link. But although Scheckter was involved in various incidents and crashes, there was no doubting his pace and ability, and his performances caught the eye of McLaren.


“At the end of that year, Surtees and McLaren offered me a Formula 2 drive and I took the McLaren drive,” said Scheckter. It should have been a dream drive. McLaren had already proven that they were capable of fighting towards the front of a Formula 1 grid, but the F2 car that Scheckter was racing in 1972 was difficult to drive. However, despite the difficulties with the car, Scheckter was still able to impress, and a test at Goodwood showed the team that he was capable of mixing it with F1’s top dogs. “We were testing at Goodwood and they said ‘you’re taking the wrong line, you’ve got to go in early’ or something like this. Then Denny [Hulme] came out and they found that one shock absorber at the back was broken. Denny rented a car and then I went out for three laps and I was quicker than him. So then we went from there to Crystal Palace and I won at Crystal Palace. “At the end of that year, Lotus offered me a Formula 1 drive in the last race, and I went and spoke to McLaren and they said ‘no, we’ll lend you a car’, so the M19 at Watkins Glen, that was my first race in Formula 1.” Just like his previous debuts, Scheckter made quite the impact on his first F1 weekend. Before arriving at Watkins Glen Scheckter had only been able to conduct one test at Silverstone a few weeks before. But despite that, he qualified his McLaren eighth for the United States Grand Prix, lapping faster than some of the championship’s heavyweights, including Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi. That result alone would have been good enough to make an impression on the F1 paddock, but Scheckter wasn’t finished there. When the race got underway Scheckter got a great start and was running as high as fourth on the opening few laps before passing Fittipaldi for third on lap three. He maintained that position until lap 20 when Francois Cevert managed to make a move, relegating Scheckter to fourth, but despite losing a place, he appeared in total control of the position. However, 20 laps later everything changed. Rain moved in across the north end of the circuit and as Scheckter lapped Graham Hill and Mike Beuttler, all three spun on a damp section of the track. Hill and Beuttler managed to get their cars moving again fairly swiftly, but the same couldn’t be said for Scheckter. During the spin he’d managed to stall his car and although he eventually got the car started again, he’d lost precious time and rejoined behind Hill and Beuttler, although this time it was for position. However, while many drivers would have accepted their fate of being confined to the back end of the

classification, Scheckter refused to give in, and he set about carving his way through the order, eventually crossing the line in ninth position. After such a great start, it’s understandable that Scheckter left feeling disappointed, but he needn’t have been. He’d raced like a seasoned veteran and the paddock had sat up and taken notice. Having performed so well on his debut, McLaren offered Scheckter some additional outings in 1973. His first appearance that year was at the South African Grand Prix and he impressively put his McLaren third on the grid, just 0.15s off team-mate Denny Hulme’s pole position time. But once again, things didn’t go his way on race day, ending up being classified ninth after his Ford engine let go on lap 75 of 79. And that summed up Scheckter’s season. He qualified incredibly well in each of the five grands prix he attended, but failed to finish a single race. But, although he was disappointed not to finish the French Grand Prix, Scheckter still regards it as his best of that season. “I was on the front row and I had a real migraine before I got in the car, which makes the eyes flicker. So I had to lie down a bit and then I got in the car and the mechanic adjusted the mirror just before I went out to go to the grid and he broke it, so he had to quickly fix it,” laughed Scheckter. “Anyway, I led the race for 50 laps or something and Emerson dived me on the hairpin and then we crashed.” Unfortunately for Scheckter, crashes became a feature of his 1973 season and after being involved in a horrendous crash at the following race at Silverstone in which 11 cars were involved he faced a backlash from other drivers on the grid who felt he was a danger to others. In the end, McLaren decided to rest Scheckter for a few races, but the criticisms didn’t affect Scheckter’s mindset. “I can’t remember it bothering me at all. I’m not trying to be macho, I remember getting out at Silverstone, which obviously I was massively lucky to even get out of there, and I go ‘where’s the spare car, where’s the spare car?’ And the guys were saying ‘hey, you go and hide, don’t let anybody see you!’ “But I was just trying to go faster and win races and I don’t remember things other than that really.” Thankfully, Scheckter managed to put his accidentprone driving to bed fairly swiftly once he joined Tyrrell for the 1974 season, and he put together a string of brilliant performances to end the year third in the driver’s standings, securing his first two race victories along the way. The following year wasn’t as fruitful, with less consistent results, although Scheckter did win his home grand prix, but he was back on competitive form in 1976, finishing behind James Hunt and Niki








“I HAD THREE YEARS AT TYRRELL AND I KNEW I NEEDED TO GO” Lauda in that infamous season, despite not being totally happy with the six-wheeled P34 Tyrrell. “First of all, we didn’t know anything about it,” Scheckter said when asked why he wasn’t totally enthused with the car. “It came as a surprise to us as anybody. So when they launched it they said there were two theories. One is that it had less frontal area and the other is that it will be better under braking. Well, because the back was the same and the wing was the same, I don’t think it made any difference from a frontal area point of view. If it did, it’s quite marginal. But I think they ran a narrower track and a different wing and we went to [Paul] Ricard and went side-byside and the six-wheeler was fast. It was there, but they had done something at the back which had caused it. And when you are braking on a flat road - fine. As soon as you’re going around a corner, one of those little wheels goes up and you’ve got to brake. So it wasn’t an advantage. However, the car was fantastically fun to drive. You could do anything with it. It was like a short and a long wheelbase in one. “It broke all the time, it wasn’t funny, I can tell you. I remember coming to England and I said [to Ken Tyrrell] ‘I’ve got to see you, I can’t drive this car anymore’ because it was breaking all the time. I mean, every second race it was breaking, the back suspension was


breaking, the wheel fell off in Sweden, the suspension broke in Austria and I remember going to Zandvoort and thinking just driving like this,” Scheckter said whilst putting his head down to demonstrate his meaning. “If something breaks in Zandvoort you don’t get out of it in those days.” “But I came third in the championship and I didn’t think I did that well, but sometimes I looked at some magazines and I did better than I thought I did.” Although Scheckter had a competitive season with Tyrrell in 1976, he felt the time was right to move on for 1977. But rather than opting for a well established, front-running team, he made the decision to sign with Walter Wolf Racing, a team that had failed to qualify for a single grand prix in its two years of existence. “I had three years at Tyrrell and I knew that I had to go,” explained Scheckter. “I knew that I needed to go somewhere else and there wasn’t really anywhere else to go, but Walter Wolf was running a Williams car there. It hadn’t qualified for half the races, but he came to me and said he wanted me to drive. “I said, ‘ok, if you want me to drive, this is what I want. I want Peter Warr, one of my mechanics to come over and I wanted this amount of money or whatever it is’, and went to them. “The first year was fantastic. Should have won or

Scheckter’s time with the team got off to the greatest start. At the opening race of the season in Argentina, Scheckter put his Wolf an uninspiring 11th on the grid, but with most of the grid retiring throughout the race, he went on to win the grand prix. And it didn’t stop there. Yes, the Wolf was an unreliable car, but whenever Scheckter finished a race, it was always on the podium, apart from the final round in Japan where he finished 10th. However, although the car was clearly one of the best in the field, Scheckter never believed at the time that he could win that year’s title. “I didn’t think of it. I can’t remember thinking I can win the championship because you were going into a team that was zero. I remember James Hunt saying ‘I’ve won the first race’. He said ‘that’s good, he’s out the way now, he’ll never win another race again’ and so I think if I had thought I could and should go to win

Cahier Archive

could have won, like we all say, the championship that year. We had a fuel percolation problem. We thought it was a pickup problem, so sometimes the car would just cut out dead when you were just going around a corner. “When you’re in practice and you are trying to sort out a car and it’s doing that, you really can’t get any reading from it, and the races sometimes... Hockenheim, I was leading and then through the esses it started going ‘boom, boom, bung’ and Lauda caught me up and I think I came second. “I was leading in Belgium in the wet and thought it’s getting drier and drier, I’ll just touch the kerb like this consciously, and I just went ‘wooof’ and spun out the race. Then I crashed with [John Watson] in Sweden. We had a lot of non-finishes, but I could have won the championship that year.” Scheckter’s not wrong. Despite the fact Wolf had never made it to the starting grid of a race before,



the championship. I can’t remember it ever crossing my mind.” Despite failing to finish seven out of the 17 races in 1977, Scheckter still ended up finishing fourth in the championship and he was enjoying being in a team environment that for the first time in his career centred around him, with him being Wolf’s only driver. “I think we had 20 in the team,” Scheckter said when recalling his time with Wolf. “It was all based around what I wanted and what I was doing. Peter Warr, we had our ideas and we said ‘remember what you said then?’ He said, ‘yeah, that’s a good idea, let’s try it’. But we were very tightly knit, it was great and we had some fantastic results. We won three races, including at Monaco.” Unfortunately the result in 1977 was as good as it got for Scheckter with Wolf. Patrick Head, who had been heavily involved in the car’s design left to join forces with Frank Williams for 1978 and he left a big hole in the team that couldn’t be filled. Scheckter never won again with Wolf, achieving a best result of second in Germany and Canada that year, and sensing that the team were going to be even less competitive going forward, he made the decision to switch teams again. And this time, it was to F1’s major player: Ferrari. “[Luca Di] Montezemolo offered me a drive in Paul Ricard, I think it was when I was with McLaren and I think I was earning £3,000 a year with McLaren and paid my own expenses or something. He offered me £60,000 and I said no. I’d signed for McLaren. “So then, I don’t know how many years later, Ferrari said they wanted me to come up to theirs. I went up there, they got me off the motorway and then followed the guy flat out. Then a door opens in the middle of Modena and you go into this sort of dark place. “Actually the cops came in there because he was going too fast. So they said {they were from] Ferrari and the guy went away. But I went into his office, it was like old furniture, like ‘20s furniture, and it was quite dark and there were about four people sitting around Mr Ferrari, bodyguards and interpreters and things like that. I sat down and the first thing he said to me was ‘how much money do you want?’ And I said ‘I’m too young to talk about money’, so we didn’t do a deal at that time. “I went up another time and we didn’t do a deal. I mean it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, I think he didn’t offer me a deal and then in 1978 he came to me in February/March, very early on and said ‘we want to sign you right now’. I said ‘no, I want to wait until the end of the year’. Anyway, they persuaded me and

we signed a deal really early on to go for a two-year contract.” It might have been unusually early in the season for a driver to make a decision to switch teams for the following year, but it proved to be the right decision for Scheckter. And although Ferrari had a reputation for being an extremely difficult team to work for, Scheckter didn’t find that to be the case during his time with the Maranello-based team. “The guys at the Wolf team were saying ‘they’re terrible. You’re not gonna get on with them’ because I’m quite a difficult guy and everything like that, but I had a great time there. I had a really great time. I didn’t care about anything. Old man Ferrari liked to put people against each other and make them feel like they were going to lose and things like that. “He invited me to his dining room every time I came out there, but the first time I came to work he didn’t. And I know [Carlos] Reutemann would have, because he was a real suspicious guy, he would have been ‘oh jeez, they don’t like me now’. I didn’t care. I’m getting paid the right money, I want to win the world championship. I don’t care where I eat. And it was fine. “I had a really lovely time at Ferrari. Maybe because I gave them as much bullshit as they gave me, but Gilles [Villenueve] and I had great fun.” Although Scheckter had now arrived at F1’s biggest team, ready to take everyone and win the title, his year didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. Starting the first race of the year in Argentina from fifth on the grid, Scheckter was involved in a first lap crash which eliminated five cars and at the following race in Brazil he ended up crossing the line in sixth, a full lap down on eventual winner Jacques Laffite. But a change in chassis for the following races made a big impact. Scheckter had started the year driving the same 312T3 that Reutemann and Villenuve had raced with in 1978, but Scheckter and Villeneuve switched to the 312T4 for the third grand prix of the season, Scheckter’s home race and it was a huge improvement on its predecessor. Scheckter put his Ferrari second on the grid with Villeneuve just behind in third and in the race, the pair stormed clear, with Villeneuve eventually beating Scheckter by 3.42s, with the Tyrrell of Jean-Pierre Jarier crossing the line in third, over 20 seconds behind. But although Scheckter was now in a great position with a competitive car, the season had a totally different and unusual feeling to it, as for the first time in his career, he was the lead driver in a car capable of winning a championship.


Cahier Archive





“It was a tough year. For me it was different to other years because the tension never came down. Normally every two weeks you’ve got a race, so the pressure goes [up and down], that seemed to just stay up like that,” Scheckter said while holding his hand high demonstrating the level of tension he was under that season. “I wanted to win the championship. That’s all I wanted to do at that time. I knew I could from the first season and Gilles beat me in the first few races….stupid boy!” “I was signed as the number one driver and so if there’s only one part, I got it and I chose a wing in Long Beach and I think it was wrong. It was a big wide wing and he beat me there.” Everything looked good for Ferrari and Scheckter and after finishing fourth in the Spanish Grand Prix, he got his first race win for the Scuderia next time out, winning the Belgian Grand Prix. He then narrowly won a gruelling Monaco Grand Prix, holding off the Williams of Clay Regazzoni to win by 0.44s, but after that Ferrari’s competitiveness


seemed to fall away. Scheckter was seventh in France and then fifth in Britain and it was during this weekend that Scheckter came up with an idea to improve the car. “The big weakness was the width of the engine because that was when the wing cars were at their best. The Fords were narrow, so they could have a nice big one and ours was wide because it was flat 12 and so we didn’t have the downforce. The skirts used to jump up every now and then, but we had Michelin tyres which I think were superior in a lot of races. “The interesting part about that was they had put the exhaust system within those tunnels. So not only did you have the small tunnels, but you had the exhaust. So Silverstone, they gave me the laps to go and gave me the wrong laps to go and I lost the place. They said it was the finish of the race and it wasn’t. So I had to do another lap. “The Italian press took it up and the Old Man says ‘everyone in my office at 9 o’clock Monday morning’. So I said to Gilles ‘we need to get those exhaust pipes out of the tunnel’ and [Mauro] Forghieri [Ferrari’s chief designer], he was ‘no, no, no’.

“So Gilles and I planned it like that. I remember then saying to Old Man Ferrari ‘we shouldn’t be fighting with each other, we should be fighting with the outside’ and that changed the whole thing. He said ‘what do we need?’ So I said, ‘I think we need to get those exhausts out’ and then he said ‘so Gilles, what do you think?’, ‘Yes, I think we need to get the exhausts out’. “We got the exhausts out and Monza it was definitely better. More downforce, quick on the straights and we won there.” Having finished second behind Williams’ Alan Jones in the Dutch Grand Prix, Scheckter followed it up with victory at the Italian Grand Prix, holding Villeneuve off to win by 0.43s in front of the famous tifosi crowd. The result cemented Scheckter’s position in the championship and a fourth at the penultimate round in Canada was enough to secure him the world championship. It was a great and deserved achievement after such a turbulent career, but rather than looking back on his own achievement directly,

Scheckter asks why he won the title and Villeneuve didn’t. A question he believes he knows the answer to. “Gilles was interested in having the fastest lap and being the daredevil. So when we went to Monza, and that’s probably where it showed up more than anywhere, we were doing two days testing the week before the race. He was putting qualifying tyres on and the headlines on the news was ‘Gilles breaks the lap record’. I put on hard tyres and just adjusted the car and I was quicker than him. “So I out-qualified him and I was quick in the race. As soon as Lafitte dropped out I just backed off because the team orders were if you were one and two or two and three you don’t fight. You leave the person in front and so Gilles was behind me, I’d backed off. I knew he wasn’t going to pass me, except for the last two or three laps I made sure he wasn’t going to try anything and accelerated again.” So what was winning the world championship like? “It was relief!” Scheckter exclaimed. “That’s what it


“I DECIDED TO RETIRE HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON” was. I’ve been trying for seven years or six years and I won the championship. It wasn’t like, ‘wow, I’m excited’. I went and had dinner with the mechanics that night, and it didn’t change my life very much at all.” Scheckter was at the top of his game with a team that was operating at the highest level and it had culminated in a brilliant season, but just like so many


of Scheckter’s seasons before, the next year it all came crashing down around him. The Ferrari 312T5 was nowhere near as competitive as the T4 and Scheckter failed to finish the first three races of the 1980 season. He managed a fifth place result at the fourth round of the year at Long Beach but that was as good as it got. He was regularly slower

than Villeneuve and being stuck driving a car only capable of racing in the midfield, Scheckter decided the time was right to retire from F1. “The car wasn’t any good. I think the tyres weren’t any good either, but Gilles was quicker than me nearly all the time. I always try to analyse it because it wasn’t like I was going to the race and not trying. I was trying as hard as I ever could. Is it a subconscious thing when you wake up in the middle of the night, are you thinking about this or this? But anyway, that’s what it was and I decided to retire halfway through the season. I went to

the Old Man and said I’m retiring. “One to two drivers were getting killed every year and I probably didn’t like getting beaten, so there was nothing more for me to do. “Renault came to me towards the end of the season and basically said they’d pay me anything I want and I said ‘no, I’ve made my mind up. I’m not changing it.” At the end of 1980 Scheckter called time on an incredible but incredibly turbulent career. Many drivers have come and gone in F1, but few had a career full of so many highs and lows as Scheckter had. And although his time in the series is often remembered for his tough attitude and incident filled beginning, it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was also heavily involved in trying to improve the safety of the championship. Speaking about how he went about trying to improve the safety, Scheckter said: “You were just working on things. I did whatever I could. Gilles gave me, on behalf of all the drivers, an award at Watkins Glen. It was just a box. They didn’t have the award, it was coming later which I never got!” Scheckter chuckled. “They appreciated it because I fought hard for safety of the drivers and didn’t like some of the drivers that weren’t interested in backing me. Andretti, Rosberg, for me they were just too selfish, except to worry about themselves rather than worry about the safety of the drivers.” After finishing his time in F1 Scheckter moved into the business world, setting up a business from his kitchen table focusing on a target range simulator system that was taken on by law enforcement agencies. It proved to be a huge success, with the company making in excess of over $100,000,000 dollars and operating in 35 different countries. Having achieved such great success with his business, Scheckter then made another huge move in his life, this time to the world of farming. It was worlds apart from anything that he’d done before, but Scheckter invested huge amounts of time in learning about the industry, eventually turning his project into a viable business, one that has become award winning in the UK. It’s clear Scheckter loves a challenge and very rarely fails, and spending the hour with him at his home, it’s clear that he gets more excited talking about his business achievements than his racing ones. But when it comes to ranking his successes, it’s almost impossible for him to choose. “I think it’s all three of them, or four of them,” explains Scheckter. “That’s what makes it special, winning one world championship is great. There’s no question it’s special, but there’s Lewis [Hamilton] doing that and Jackie [Stewart] doing this, so I’m a piece of shit you know. “Then you go ok, so I was quite a good driver and then the business was probably as good as that, maybe better if you take it in context, starting from the kitchen


table and in 12 years you’re doing $100million of sales and in 35 countries. And it wasn’t big money being invested. It was my money and a friend of mine, and we started off and it was paying for itself after a period of time. “And then this one [the farm] was a passion and we won many prizes for every one of our products, but financially it wasn’t working at all. So I can’t call this one a success. I wasn’t going to fail. I should have stopped 10 years ago, but I didn’t want it to fail completely so I carried on for another 10 years, working 11 hours a day to try and make it work and it’s got to a stage where it’s not losing money. It’s not making money, but it’s ticking over and we are starting to go up now after the virus. “My other one is I won the World Superstar in 1981. 10 exercises. Edwin Moses, he broke his own world record like eight times in hurdles and [Renaldo] Nehemiah had the indoor hurdle and they were there. And there were a couple of big rugby players and an English rugby player and I won. “So I was very proud of that, it was an achievement for a race driver. I used a bit of Formula 1 technology. We had kickbacks. You know you have to kick back over a line, and see how many you can do in a minute. So the semi-finals were in Israel and this one guy put like poxy on the end of his shoe. That’s a good idea. Now instead of picking it up you can nearly slide it. Then before I went up, I put oil on my legs. I got the record and they complained but it wasn’t against the rules.” It doesn’t matter what walk of life Scheckter enters, the grit and determination is still the same. It’s the way he raced and the way he seemingly operates his whole life. He doesn’t give up, he doesn’t fail and he always makes sure he succeeds no matter how long it takes. Without question, Scheckter had one of the most turbulent careers of any racing driver. Huge highs followed by huge lows, but no matter what car he had he was always fast, always capable of winning races and few drivers have ever been able to win with every team they raced for when contesting a full season. And 40 years on from his F1 debut, everything is still the same. The huge high of a highly successful business was followed by a new venture that cost him millions of pounds, but 12 years of hard work, grit and determination and the farm is now surviving and even turning a profit. It’s testament to how mentally strong Scheckter is. He doesn’t falter when most others would. His blind tenacity overlooks any worries and the job always gets done. And while he perhaps should have won more world championships than he ended up with, it’s exactly why he is still to this day considered one of F1’s greatest drivers, an accolade that is well and truly deserved.










he Dakar Rally is the most extreme off-roading event in the world. 14 days in barren, desolate areas, spending lots of time with nothing more than your car and a sophisticated compass. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted. But one person’s hell is another’s heaven and in Excite Rally Raid’s case, it’s definitely the latter. The challenge of Dakar alone is exhilarating enough, but Excite Rally Raid are trying to set a new precedent. They want to be the first all-British, allfemale team to complete the race. While a huge spotlight is currently being shone on females in motorsport - and rightly so - females competing in Dakar is nothing new. Women have taken on the challenge of completing the event throughout the race’s entire 43-year history and in 2001 Jutta Kleinschmidt won the overall car race. But to date there’s not been a female crew descending from the small island that is the United Kingdom. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of pursuing a dream to race at Dakar, but first of all you have to face the reality, something that Excite did very early on. Although they have their sights firmly set on the Dakar finish line they know there’s a lot of work to do before they are in a position to reach it and so the Dakar race itself isn’t featuring on their radar right now. The team plans to make its debut in the infamous cross-country race in 2023, but for now, it’s all about laying the foundations so that they are in the best position to not only turn up at Dakar in a year’s time,

but also finish it and finish it well. And the work on those foundations began in 2021. With Jade Paveley driving and Claire Williams and Hannah Davison sharing navigating duties, the team set about competing in the British Cross Country Championship last year, and while they were all experienced in rallying, competing off-road was an entirely new challenge. “I had to forget everything I knew,” Williams told The Pit Stop. “I found the first round, I tried to put what I know into working it, but then it just went out the window. I thought this is just a totally different ballgame. So it was a total learning curve at the beginning, but it was one where I thought ‘right, I’m game for this challenge’. “We learnt as a team which was even better. It was quite nice in that respect that I didn’t feel totally, not alone, we had the team and everything, but it was nice that we were in that position together.” “The first round was probably the hardest,” added Davison. “Not because it was the first round, but it was the most technical event. It was the most offroad event, so I think we were really thrown in the deep end. I think looking back that probably did us wonders because then the rest seemed so manageable compared to the steep rocks and everything on the first one. “The first one was definitely the most technical and the biggest challenge, but it was really good.” One of the newest elements for Paveley was not being able to carry out a recce like she normally would

“IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE DONE IN MY CAREER SO FAR” - JADE PAVELEY in rallying. “It’s one of the things, we all work very hard, we’ve all kind of traipsed around the tracks because you can’t recce like you can with a rally, and we had to walk around it or cycle round. At the last round we had to borrow a competitor’s bike and I ended up going round because we only had one bike between us. But I fell off this bike so many times, covered in mud, and it was getting dark and I was by myself in this forest. I was like I’ve got to get round this so I know what to expect the next day. “But I think the first round was so technical we were walking round going ‘oh my god, what the hell is this?’ Because it was literally like nothing we’ve done before and you’re going over crests where you can only see sky, and yes you get that with rallying, but there was a big drop and then a hairpin at the bottom, then it was muddy and it was such a different experience, but I absolutely loved it. It was one of the best things I’ve done in my career so far.” Tackling a new discipline on a strange surface is

one thing, but the team also had to get used to a completely different type of machinery. In the past, all three have competed using the obvious rally cars we are all familiar with, but to tackle the BXCC a different type of machine was needed. In order to ensure that right from the off the girls were using machinery close to the type of vehicle they’d be competing with in the future, team principal John Hardy decided the team would run a Mitsubishi Pajero for the year. With a short wheelbase and its height, it was entirely new for Paveley, Davison and Williams and that also took some time to adapt to. “It definitely felt different,” said Davison, “because you were high and in rallying you’re as low as you can get. Stiff suspension, lots of fuel onboard, so it was definitely different, but I think because of the terrain that you’re on, it really suited the terrain, so it lended itself well to that and it worked. “With all those drops and stuff, we didn’t know what to expect, how the vehicle was going to take it and I remember after the first time we went around the stage,


we were going ‘it’s bonkers, it’s fine’. So yeah, we were just so surprised at how well it tackled everything and it stands to that when you look at the fact we never didn’t finish a stage, no punctures, nothing. It was so good for that championship and handled everything that was thrown at it.” “I must say it was very different,” added Paveley. “I think the thing I could relate it to was because my partner owns a rally experience, I’d jumped in and out of 4X4s over lockdown just to help with looking after the stage there and going off-road and trying things out. I think I’d really only tried off-road a couple of weeks before. I thought I’d go up this hill and see how it feels in this car, just to get that sensation because it’s


a very different sensation when you’re going up and down and round. “I had braces fitted during the season and we went down the back straight that was jump, jump, jump, jump and I broke my braces because my teeth were chattering so much and you wouldn’t get that in rallying. “The car was a challenge because of where the weight was for me. The fuel tank was very high up in the back and when you go around a corner, especially at Kielder, because that was the fastest event that we did, when you’re carrying speed around the corners, the weight transfer of the fuel sloshing from one side to the next and kind of feeling that catch up with you

was quite a difficult sensation. But, as Hannah said, we finished every single stage and it’s something we are all really proud of that we had no experience before, but we got through the whole season with barely a scratch on the car.” Excite didn’t just finish every stage of the BXCC, they also won every round, securing themselves the T2 championship at the first time of asking. And while from the outside it may appear as though the team overachieved in 2021, within the team they always felt the championship win was possible if they got everything right. “I think it may be quietly what we were hoping for anyway. So I think it maybe matched the sort of

expectations we had on ourselves really,” explained Williams. “Out loud we said we just want to finish and get the miles, but quietly we were like ‘let’s go and do this’.” For Paveley though things were slightly different. Being behind the wheel, being the one driving the car she knew she was under pressure to ensure the team got the results they knew they were capable of achieving. “I don’t think I realised at the time because I was enjoying it and trying my absolute best, I didn’t realise how much pressure I was kind of under to make sure that I didn’t put a foot wrong. Because there were no pacenotes it was a slightly different experience. It was


slightly more general, but I have no sense of direction so I was relying on the other two as always. “But once I finished and went past the finish line at Walters, I was really quite emotional because I was like ‘ahh, like it’s done’. It was done, it was brilliant, I loved it, but obviously we had quite a tight budget and John has tried hard with Dean [Faulkner] to get these sponsors onboard, so that was very much present. And usually, like I am with my own car, thinking go flat out, but you know, make sure the car lasts until the end of the stage, but that was a relief I think.” With the BXCC title now ticked off, the team is ready to take its next step up the learning ladder. Excite is planning to compete in Europe this year on events that are much closer to what the team can expect to face on Dakar, with even bigger plans beyond that. “The next stage is the European Baja Series,” explains Hardy. “That’s five rounds we can do within Europe. The stages are a lot longer, a lot harder, but we’re growing as a team. The girls are getting more and more experience and we’re moving forward.” “We’d like to do the new World Rally-Raid championship in 2023 which starts with Dakar, then the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and so on. I think there’s five rounds in that. So that’s our goal. “If we can be competing in a world championship that would be absolutely awesome. So that’s where I’d like to take the team, but I’d love to end up with a two car team. So have Jade and Hannah in one car and Claire in one car with another female driver. “The thing with rally-raiding, it’s so tough, it’s so long, especially Dakar. To take one car and have a failure after day three, a heck of a lot of money. To take


that second car is not that much more expense but you’ve got the backup then. You’ve got more chance of getting one car to the finish. “They can work together, drive as a team. If the second car comes across the first car and it’s stuck, they can work together to get that car out. Or if it’s a mechanical problem they can try and sort it between them and basically ride together and have a wingman if you like. “So that’s the aim. I’d like to have a couple of cracks at Dakar. The first year to drive it and get to the finish, gain the experience because anyone that finishes has done bloody well and then the second year go for it and see if we can get top female crew. “That would be the ultimate for me as team principal. I’d love to see the cars go over the start ramp. To see them coming over the finish ramp would be absolutely awesome. But to put the icing on the cake, if we could eventually get to be top female crew or top female driver, it would be amazing.” And while the Pajero has served the team well in the BXCC, Hardy is targeting a new type of car and a step up in class when the time is ready to tackle Dakar. “We’d like to go to a T1 car. So a spaceframe chassis with bolt-on panels. A lot easier to work on, a little bit lighter and more accessible for the parts. “The Pajero is great, but being a production car, it’s not designed for a quick fix if you like. So we’re probably looking at something like a Desert Warrior built by Rally Raid UK, something like that. I love the Pajero but it’s coming to the end of its homologation, so we would be shifted into the next class anyway. So if you’re going into the next class you might as well have


“TO GET TO DO IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS, WHAT A PRIVILEGED POSITION TO BE IN REALLY” - HANNAH DAVISON a purpose built one and do it that way. “But yeah, the Pajero’s great for a learning car. It’s just if you get stuck in the dunes you’ve got to manually jack that up whereas a T1 car’s got the built-in jacks and it just makes life a lot easier and it’s more of a purpose built vehicle so it doesn’t take so much abuse, or it can take the abuse better. So that would be the ultimate, but we’ll see how the funding goes. “Everyone here is a volunteer, we’re all passionate about the sport, they all love the challenge in front of them and to be part of something special and pull it off. We’re not a money making outfit.” And that’s a key point. Every member of the Excite Rally Raid team, including Paveley, Davison and Williams are doing this purely for the challenge and to make their mark. There’s no salary, no pay, all of the money the team brings in goes into getting the team to its end goal. And it’s that challenge alone that has drawn in the girls and why they signed up. “It was the major selling point when I saw the ad that people sent me about what Excite were doing,” said Williams. “As soon as I saw Dakar, I thought well surely that’s the epitome of endurance. “We’ll probably hate each other during it and after it, but I think it’s going to be worth suffering for, without a doubt. And I think when I saw what it was like, I was ‘yeah, I want to have a crack at that’. Especially if we can be the first British female team to do it, you go down as being the first to do something and you’re in


the history books straight away. I think that’s everyone’s aim really, but I’m very excited about it.” “I’d always grown up watching the Dakar, it was always something I remember in my teens saying to my dad I’d love to be involved in that,” said Davison. “Never thinking that I’d have the opportunity to compete on it, but more so in a support or organisational role because I’m an events manager by day. “So, the logistics of it, that blows my mind. Like I love the logistics side of it as well, and I remember my dad had a friend who was involved in it as a mechanic in one of the support trucks and I remember saying ‘Dad, do you think you could ask him if there’s anything I could do?’ So yeah, when I saw the advert, I was like yeah, this looks exciting and this could go somewhere. “And to get to do it with your friends, what a privileged position to be in really. It’s the dream scenario to go to Dakar with.” “I don’t really underestimate the challenge because I think financially it’s going to be a massive thing,” added Paveley, “and I think the experience we’ve had this year has been brilliant and I’m really happy about that. But I think it’s going to be a lot of hard work, a lot of financial backing that needs to make it happen. So that’s a big challenge we need to bear in mind. “For me, Dakar was something I used to watch with Dad late at night and if I was staying up late, it was quite ‘oh I’ve got school the next day, but I’ll watch

Dakar with Dad’ which was nice. But for me, I was always originally going to go down the racing route like karting and I started racing, I got a break with Mazda driving for them and originally my aim was to go to touring cars. “So that was kind of the dream when I was growing up in karting and then we had the business in Wales and started rallying, so doing that kind of led me to more, for a better word, the rough and ready side of the sport where I really fell in love in rallying more so than racing, but I’ve still got that kind of in me. “But Dakar is something for my childhood that has been around, so if I could experience that, that would be an absolutely brilliant goal and like Claire said, she watched it saying ‘what on earth are people doing’, but people could be watching us in a few years time going ‘what on earth are these girls doing out there?’ But it might open the door to other girls doing it as well. “So if we can get on that platform which is a global platform to see how we can do that and work together as a team, I think it would be a really amazing thing.” And beyond competing in the race itself, all three girls want to show that if they can make it to Dakar that they are totally equal to their male counterparts. “There is almost like a premonition that I want to come true is that when we all get glammed up and stuff like that. Dresses, hair done up and we look at that side of us, but I really want a picture of us covered in sand, sweat, you know and properly looking hair in a mess. Hopefully not digging a car out, but along those lines that people look and think ‘they’re not just girls.

They’re serious and will get stuck in’. “I really want to be seen and respected for doing the hard work as much as well, like I said, getting glammed up afterwards.” “But we all do though,” added Paveley. “We don’t give two hoots if we have to get our hands dirty and we all do the absolute best of everything we do. So I think John’s got a good team here. We’ll put our absolute all into it. So if anyone’s like ‘girls can’t do something’ they just need to look at the team that we’re putting together and show that we can do it.” “You’ve got to embrace the suffering of Dakar,” said Williams. “The fact you can’t be proud, or you can’t think ‘I can’t do that’. It’s always going to be like we’ve got to do it, let’s get into it. And I’m one of those people anyway, even in rallying, if the wheel’s knackered I know I have to put my shift in as much as the competitor in the car with me to get it changed.” The team knows that the road ahead won’t be easy, but they won’t be deterred. They have a clear goal in mind and with the plan they’ve put in place, they have a clear map ahead on how it can be achieved. Of course, finances and money will likely play a role, but if that aspect can be covered off at every relevant stage then there’s no reason why this team can’t go on and achieve its dream. And with the approach and success it’s taken and achieved so far, don’t go betting against Excite ending up with the fastest all-British, all-female crew on Dakar at some point in the future.










hen the curtain falls on a great Formula 1 career, the discussion and debate about their place in the pantheon of the legends begins in earnest. At the end of 2021, we bade farewell to 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, winner of 21 grands prix and holder of the record for Formula 1 race starts with 349. He left us with a complex, enigmatic and at times frustrating enigmatic legacy to unravel. After all, which version of Raikkonen are we talking about? Is it the driver who defied expectations with his performances for Sauber after jumping into F1 directly from Formula Renault UK in 2001 and almost beat Michael Schumacher to the title with McLaren two years later? The stunningly fast charger of Suzuka 2005 who might have won that title but for Mercedes’ unreliability? Ferrari’s most recent world champion? The Maranello reject who was paid to stay away in 2010 to allow Fernando Alonso to join? The underdog hero of the Lotus years? The largely unspectacular but dutiful number two of the second Ferrari stint? The old stager having an enjoyable three-year retirement tour with Alfa Romeo? Mention his name to any motorsport fan and many different versions of Raikkonen will spring to mind.


The reality is that Raikkonen was all of these things mentioned above, and more besides. For a time, he was the fastest driver in F1 and the anointed successor to Schumacher. That McLaren-era Raikkonen was a relentless force of nature during race stints in particular, but even at the point he won his world championship, that edge was showing hints of being blunted. In the second part of his F1 career, the peaks occurred with decreasing regularity and his popularity depended more on his off-track persona – that curious, lovable ‘anti-charisma’ - than what he did on it. No driver in grand prix history has made the transition from greatin-the-making to a solid, consistent performer in such baffling fashion. That in itself makes him one of the most endlessly fascinating drivers ever to have raced in F1. Peak performance is one part of evaluating a career, but the greatest are able to sustain it. That Raikkonen was at his best for only part of his career, peaking early and spending much of it, frankly, underachieving, takes the sheen off his CV. That’s what eliminates him from contention as one of the few greats who converted their brilliance into more consistent careers and greater weight of numbers. But at his absolute best, behind the wheel of the McLarenMercedes MP4-20 at Suzuka, or perhaps the 2004 MP4-19B at Spa, he was as good as any of them. Had that Raikkonen lingered longer, we would not only be

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talking about a driver with more world championships, but also one firmly in the conversation in the most elusive of clubs containing the true greats stretching from Juan Manuel Fangio to Lewis Hamilton. The Raikkonen of his peak years was not the same as the later one, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Formula 1 was different then. Whatever the reasons, had you told the watching world on the day Raikkonen stood atop the Interlagos podium as world champion in 2007 that there would be only half-a-dozen more victories in another 12 seasons racing in F1, most would have laughed. That failure to produce relentless success is one thing, but what is truly remarkable is that Raikkonen didn’t seem to need to. He appears to lack that desperate, insatiable desire to win, win and win again. That’s one of the characteristics that makes him popular, and perhaps explains why he appears to have such a fulfilling life away from F1, one he can now devote more time to. “It’s not going to change your life,” says Raikkonen of the races that went unwon. “It might change how people look at you, but in the end it’s what happened.

Why would you look different to anyone because you won one extra race? I think it’s a bit odd. “That’s why I’m not into complaining. I can’t complain I should have won this many or that many. In the end, I had a good run and I done it my own way and good or bad, I enjoyed it. I’m happy that it comes to an end. I’m much happier to be at the end than beginning again. Life goes on.” That’s perhaps the statement Raikkonen can certainly not be accused of doing it anything other than his own way, but there’s more to understanding him than simply as a once-great driver who simply hung around because he loved it so much. There are endless opinions about Raikkonen, from the most slavishly devoted fans who create a narrative where any underachievement is written off as caused by external factors, to those who dismiss the idea he was operating at the level of a great. But the truth is so much more fascinating, and lies in between those two extremes. His talent, reductive and misleading as that word can be, is undisputed. He came into F1 with 23 starts in car racing under his belts, most in Formula Renault 2.0 but a few in Formula Ford, and caught





HE WAS IN NO WAY OVER-AWED BY F1 AND, ON A PROVISIONAL SUPER LICENCE, EXCELLED IN THAT FIRST YEAR the eye immediately. The tale of Michael Schumacher enquiring with the Sauber team about the unknown driver he encountered on track in testing at Mugello in September 2000 and saying of Raikkonen “he will be very, very fast” is not an apocryphal one. Raikkonen’s was an innate talent, one encoded in him by his fast learning of the basics in the early years. That’s one of the reasons why if you ask him to deconstruct his driving he can’t, because like so many greats he learned so quickly and unconsciously that he’s never had to delve that deeply into it. While his refusal to do so has perhaps been a weakness in the long term, and impacted his adaptability, it speaks of tremendous underlying ability. He was in no way over-awed by F1 and, on a provisional super licence, excelled in that first year. The canny Peter Sauber rated Raikkonen highly from the start and had him on a three-year deal – a snip at $500,000 basic plus $50,000 for each of his nine points – which meant a huge cash influx when McLaren signed him for 2002, one that paid for a state-of-the-art windtunnel. But what was certainly true of Raikkonen, in common with all the greats, was that he was able to make an instant impression in F1. But the F1 that he started was very different to the one he later competed in and there’s a clear correlation between the challenges of the cars and his own waning performances. During his McLaren glory

years, he pushed hard for very specific characteristics in terms of front-end sensitivity. While this was partly achieved through hard work on the front suspension design and steering, the tyres also played a big part. This was the era of F1’s biggest tyre wars, where teams could stipulate the construction and compound characteristics they wanted and it wasn’t unusual to burn through 20 sets of tyres on a test day. And there were many test days in that era – in fact, 256 of the 308 ‘official’ test days Raikkonen participated in happened before the end of 2009. In 2007, Raikkonen moved to Ferrari, which meant a change to Bridgestone rubber. That would have happened anyway given Michelin had withdrawn ahead of the move to a spec tyre supplier in 2008, but this was a car/tyre combination developed during the Michael Schumacher years. Without the tyre war to drive development, they were never entirely to Raikkonen’s liking and in 2008 it was particularly pronounced. Then, the speed was still there, but he only won two races and was not a serious title threat with teammate Felipe Massa gunning for the championship. But Raikkonen set the fastest lap 10 times in 18 races, leading to suggestions from some that he only ‘woke up’ occasionally in races. What was actually happening was far more interesting than that – and revealing. That year, the Ferrari had a tendency to understeer.


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those days, often getting the worse side of strategy calls, that was a role he effectively cast himself in. The two-year hiatus in 2010-11, when he was paid by Ferrari to sit on the sidelines in the first of those seasons and opted to compete in the World Rally Championship – as well as briefly turning up in NASCAR trucks and the second-tier Nationwide series – could have been the end for him in F1. This almost didn’t happen given he had talks with McLaren about a return in 2010 that fell apart when reigning world champion Jenson Button became available – although he would have had to forsake his Ferrari money had that come off – but when he returned it was with the Enstone-based Lotus team (now Alpine). This was an important, and curious, part of Raikkonen’s career. Indeed, when you put it to him that his peak was in the McLaren years, particularly 2005, he concedes it’s possible but then throws the Lotus years into the mix. During that spell, he was everyone’s favourite underdog, winning in Abu Dhabi 2012 and Australia 2013 in a car that was kind to its tyres and quick enough occasionally to bother the leaders. In a team that was increasingly struggling for funding, the performances were impressive and earned him a recall to Ferrari, which was partly motivated by a fear that Fernando Alonso would walk away. That did happen, but for ’15, by which time Raikkonen’s poor performances had shown the Maranello hierarchy that he wasn’t the man to lead the team. So what should we make of Lotus-era Raikkonen? In retrospect, the Raikkonen that starred in that era perhaps wasn’t quite at the level he seemed. While Ferrari

But as the stint progressed and the rear tyres degraded, inevitably they lost grip at a faster rate than the fronts. This would create a ‘sweet spot’ for Raikkonen where the car found the balance he preferred and he was able to unleash his pace. Usually this happened after the first stint, once he was in less traffic later on. It’s a sign of an unusually sensitive driver, one whose window wasn’t wide enough to thrive in all types of car but who could fly when things were right. “I can’t tell because it’s only what I know,” says Raikkonen when asked if he’s an unusually sensitive driver. “The tyres obviously made a huge difference and I know in the McLaren it wasn’t bad, but in the middle of 2004 or early part of 2005 we changed the front end a bit and the whole package got better. “I always liked it to be on the oversteer rather than on the understeer side, that’s for sure. But that’s not always the fastest way either – although if you get it right, you get it right. “But I don’t know if I am more sensitive or not. Maybe…” There’s a certain ‘it is what it is’ quality to Raikkonen that was sometimes a strength but more often a weakness. That lack of adaptability certainly held him back at times, while the oversteer tendency he favoured could indeed be harder to get right. Particularly during his second Ferrari stint from 2014-2018, there were countless qualifying sessions where he had pace but the odd mistake here or there left him a chunk off the pace. When everything was right, he could be unbeatable, but things were rarely right as his career progressed. And while he was Ferrari’s number two in





consistent and capable of scoring heavily, there were more potential wins that got away than victories he took – Bahrain 2012/13, Spain ’12 and Nurburgring ’13 stand out. By the second half of his final season, the team’s own performance analysis had Grosjean as the quicker driver by several tenths, and that was borne out by his stellar performances during that period. This was a different kind of Raikkonen – consistent, precise and still very good, but not the one of his first F1 career. The 2014 rule changes, with the introduction of the V6 turbo hybrids and the onset of an era of ever-more intense management, also changed the nature of F1. The cars became increasingly heavier, although in their 2017-21 form were the fastest over a single lap ever produced. But moments of Raikkonen magic were rare, with his well-executed final victory in the 2018 United States Grand Prix the high-water mark. Yet through all of that time, and the three years with Alfa Romeo that ended his career, Raikkonen did achieve something remarkable in that he appeared to enjoy it. He’s a character who simply loves driving – and what’s more admits that qualifying was never his favourite discipline with the real joy to be found in longer, consistently pushing race stints. Even in his final season, aged 42, when he struggled badly for one-lap pace his performances on Sunday were generally at a decent level. The machinery was poor, in fact his last three seasons were in the least competitive machinery of his F1 career, but even amid those subdued, monosyllabic post-race interviews that he is famous for, you could still see he was enjoying the pure experience of driving. There could – indeed there should – have been more wins. A more adaptable, studious driver could have taken that incredible talent, rounded it out and had more success. But Raikkonen didn’t need to do that and doesn’t regret it.

But the very fact that Raikkonen did things his own way, didn’t go to the lengths some of his rivals did to sharpen his skillset and yet still won a world championship and was, for a period, the quickest man in F1, is remarkable. And he was able to retire on his own terms, with his head held high with no sign of any regrets from his career. That’s something that many drivers, even successful ones, struggle to do. So among the greats in F1, he stands on his own. He’s not up there with Fangio, Moss, Clark, Stewart, Lauda, Prost, Senna, Schumacher and Hamilton – although if you were to take the Raikkonen of 2005 and extend it over a full career he could have been. But he’s a unique case, on his day one of the best, but over the full spread of his long career he stands as a wondrous anomaly for there were long periods of time when he was merely a good, solid F1 driver. No driver has such a curious career path, which is what will make Raikkonen such an enduringly popular and fascinating driver. From a personal perspective, it was disappointing that the Raikkonen of 2005 was so often absent after he left from McLaren and there was definitely untapped potential. At the same time, you can’t help but respect the way he’s gone about things and also how mighty he was - certainly, a privilege to watch in action. But from the perspective that matters most, Raikkonen’s own personal perspective, he says he wouldn’t change a thing. Judged by the standards of the sport, he underachieved, but by his own standards, he triumphed. It’s that perspective that makes Raikkonen a one-off, and means that he heads into retirement as perhaps one of the best-adjusted characters of all the world champions. After all, how many can legitimately say they were the best in F1 for a time yet still achieve such a seemingly fulfilling balance?








he British Superbike Championship may only be regarded as a national series, yet the competitiveness on the grid makes it as popular as those on the world championship level. That is why it is so difficult to enter the championship and make a mark straight away. But not for

Rory Skinner. The young Scotsman came into the category as reigning British Supersport champion and almost instantly blew everyone away. It took Skinner just two rounds to cement his name as a future star in motorcycle racing.


His home race at Knockhill came as the perfect benchmark being just the second round of the 2021 season. This was the best chance for Skinner to prove himself on a track where he was already so experienced on any other motorcycle. “I said to the team at the start of the season, as soon as I signed for them at the end of 2020, I was like Knockhill will be the best round for me next year guaranteed,” he explained to The Pit Stop. “Because I know Knockhill like the back of my hand and I know every bump on it.” “I know whether it’s my line on the track that’s causing the issue or whether it’s like a setup issue that’s

hindering the progress.” It was this confidence that allowed the FS-3 Racing rider to excel at his home track and secure fifth in Race 1 and second in Race 2 and 3. Beating the likes of BSB champion Taz Mackenzie and Christian Iddon in the process. Skinner said this felt completely natural to him out on track and he didn’t feel pressure of racing at the front in only his second BSB round. “It’s weird because it just felt right if you know what I mean,” he said. “The whole BSB grid is so talented, but racing with the boys at the front end, you learn so much being

around them. And for me, to be honest, being able to lead a race at the front end and create a gap, to me that was just amazing. “It was totally crazy racing with the likes of Danny Buchan, Taz Mackenzie, Christian Iddon. These guys are all proven race winners, they’ve all done it themselves before. “So for me in my second round of BSB in the superbike class, it was like, wow, this is crazy.” In BSB, it is often for riders to have a favoured circuit on the calendar. This puts the riders to an advantage because of the lesser amount of learning needed to do on a race weekend. The 20-year-old recalled the confidence he had heading into the Knockhill weekend and said the only worry he had was making sure the bike was fine-tuned to the best it could be. “Knockhill was totally different to other circuits when I jumped on a superbike,” he said. “I already had such a good base understanding of the circuit that it was almost like I didn’t have to worry about where I was on the track or how I was riding. “It was just about fine tuning the bike and making sure I was the best I could be on the bike so yeah it was almost like a fairy-tale weekend to be honest, but it was so good.” The strong performances didn’t just come at Knockhill. Skinner was consistently floating around the front of the pack and tallied up enough points to finish 13th and top rookie in the championship, impressive for a rider who had little superbike experience prior to the season. Skinner’s ability to adapt quickly on a new motorcycle is something that is common in the Scotsman’s career. He won the inaugural British Talent Cup in 2018, before going onto race in the British Supersport Championship in 2019 and finishing as top rookie as well as top Kawasaki rider in seventh. No one could touch Skinner the following year. Racing a Yamaha R6 for Appleyard Macadam, he won 10 races out of 12, ending the year on 270 points and becoming the youngest champion in history in the British Supersport class. It’s this history of consistency and ability to bond with a bike quickly that no doubt helped Skinner become an instant BSB star. Skinner said having time on a superstock 1000 before the 2021 season began really helped prepare for the year in BSB. “I’d done a lot of track time on a stock 1000 that the team very kindly gave me to use over the winter,” he said. “Me and Dad managed to get out to Spain through January and February, which was very, very lucky because it was very restricted in the second lockdown. So yeah, I managed to get elite sportsman status and get out there, which was really beneficial for me.


“It got me a lot of time to understand the characteristics of a 1000cc engine. But apart from that, all the similarities between a stock 1000 and the superbike stop there. So you know, the first test was pretty, pretty eye opening. It was just trying to learn so much. The Perth-born racer also said his Crew Chief


for 2021, Matt Llewellyn, brought a lot of superbike experience and that was a key part to adapting to the bike through testing and the entire year. “The team had done a great job and can we just had a program we worked through all the way through testing, and it just worked really well,” Skinner said. “And Matt Llewellyn, my Crew Chief, is an

experienced racer himself. So he kept me grinding. He kept me right the whole way through the test, and it kind of put us in good stead for the start of the year. “Going from the first test to the last round was night and day. The bike totally feels like my own now. It feels natural to jump on it and ride the superbike. “It doesn’t feel like, wow, this speed is absolutely

crazy. It just kind of feels more normalised.” In his rookie season, Skinner was racing on a factory-spec Kawasaki with the FS-3 racing team. FS-3 now has six years of BSB racing under its belt and is quickly becoming one of the teams vying for a titlewinning season. Skinner signed alongside Lee Jackson, an



experienced BSB rider with a total of five years in the class. Having both a team and teammate with a wide range of experience in the British Superbike paddock and also such a strong community was a big boost in the first year of being in the superbike class, Skinner said. “Having a team around me like FS-3 was brilliant and for me, I think FS-3 in the BSB paddock is the best possible place I could be,” he said. “They’re just like a massive family. They’re all really supportive of each other and there’s no tension in the garage. Me and Lee [Jackson] get on totally fine and we’ll discuss things if one of us is struggling, the other one will help. “There’s no team orders in the way that we’re not allowed to look at each other’s data like, it’s totally open. And if we can help each other out, then we will. “I know some teams maybe have a bit of rivalry in the garage. And yeah, of course, the first person you want to beat is your teammate, but at the end of the day, if as a team you can be further up the grid, then it benefits everyone.” Skinner will once again race with FS-3 going into the 2022 season with Jackson on the other side of the garage. But beyond that there is still uncertainty as to where the Scotsman could be headed. Moto2 is a real possibility should Skinner want to follow the footsteps of Jake Dixon, who impressed in BSB and is now getting on well in the intermediate class

of MotoGP. But should a World Superbikes seat come calling, that is another opportunity for Skinner to take up. The 20-year-old said while his full focus is on 2022 and fighting at the front, it would be a dream scenario to get onto the MotoGP ladder in the future. “You’re only as good as your last race at the end of the day and you’ve got to do the job in the championship that you’re in and you know, I think FS-3 are giving me a great opportunity for next season,” he said. “I’ll be working my absolute hardest to make sure I’m in the best shape I can be over this offseason and the fittest I’ve ever been so far for going into next season. And I’ll do the best I can possibly do next season with FS-3 and where that takes me, I don’t know. “It’d be great if I could say where I was going to be but yeah I’ll just keep working on it. I’d like to be on the grand prix route. I think that’s got to be every young rider’s dream, you know. “You’ve got to aim for the highest you can possibly aim for. Jake’s done a good job by showing what the level of British Superbikes is by going into Moto2. You know he’s had a tough season this year with his injury from the end of 2020 but I firmly believe Jake’s a good top five man in Moto2.” Wherever Skinner ends up after the 2022 season, be it still in BSB or elsewhere, there is a new star on the rise. And it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself at the top.










he 2021 Formula 1 season was a season unlike any we have seen in a while. Closely fought-out between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull and Mercedes. And although Max took the crown at the time of writing, the controversial circumstances in which that win came are still rumbling on… With all the drama, you will be forgiven for forgetting that one of motoring’s most iconic brands completed its first season, and Aston Martin plans bigger and better things for next year. Returning to the sport for the first time since 1960, Aston Martin - with title partner Cognizant in tow - have risen out of the ashes of Racing Point after Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll bought the dwindling Silverstone outfit. Of course, “Team Silverstone” has been around for many years as Jordan and then Midland, followed by Spyker and Force India before becoming Racing Point. It would be fair to say that 2021 hasn’t been the most stellar of starts for Aston Martin. Despite a strong driver line-up and a solid team of experienced F1 people working off track, a particularly competitive grid twinned with a season still very much shaped by a global pandemic, has meant the Northamptonshire based team were locked within the midfield of the grid. However, with new facilities being built and a major shakeup of rules for 2022, the British racing green team


is looking to make its way up the pecking order. With all these developments on the horizon, there’s a lot at stake for the team and a lot of work going on behind the scenes. The off-season is also a time for reflection, to establish what was good and what could have been executed better. The team acknowledges that their return to F1 didn’t get off to the best of starts, but with a clear five-year plan laid out in front of them, Aston Martin hopes that it will be in a better position this season. “Obviously, we finished seventh which is not what our ambitions are,” Aston Martin’s Communications Director Matt Bishop began. “We knew that at the beginning of the year we were disadvantaged by changes to the aero configurations of the formula. It disadvantaged Mercedes Benz more than anybody else. [They] have done pretty well since then. But they were streets ahead of all the other teams in previous year, and now down against Red Bull, which is a high rake car of course. The original and most definitive high rake car.” Bishop agreed it had been a challenging year for everybody. However, he is positive as to what the team can achieve going forward. “This was ‘Year One’ of the five-year plan, which has been laid out very clearly by probably the most ambitious person I have ever worked with, Lawrence Stroll,” he stated. “Next year there is a new insheet for all the teams and then years three, four and five.

“We’ll be honest, we want to start with the podiums, then wins and have a proper tilt at the world championship in year five. We’re talking about 2025.” Aston Martin’s focus is clear, and Aston Martin’s sporting director Andy Stevenson explained how the team is working towards the shared goal. “Our plan is to win the championships and grand prix over the next five years and this year has put us in a very good place to do that. We understand where some of our weaknesses are, and we are working to improve. As a team, we are not new to Formula 1 - we have a lot of very, very experienced people here. It’s been a year of getting everybody to work together to enable us to reach our goals. I think that one thing we have managed to do is to show everybody how professional we are and have certainly got the name of Aston Martin recognised back in Formula 1.” It would be difficult to discuss the 2021 season without mentioning the pandemic, and the season Aston Martin has just had is very different to the season they had planned back in January. “That intensifies all the work that everybody has to do,” Stevenson stated. “As you can imagine, a huge amount of planning goes into every event. When those plans keep changing, it’s as if you’re adding another event all the time. Whilst we’ve raced 22 events this year, we’ve probably planned for over 30, and in that time as well we’ve had to attend the events as well as be planning for them.”

This has been very challenging, not just for Aston Martin, but for all teams. “I’m really proud to be considered as part of all of this,” Stevenson explained. “I think it will go down in history as some of the toughest years ever, and I’m really, really, really proud of everybody else who’s been involved as well.” It has been an extremely hard year for everyone in the sport and an amazing achievement to get two seasons of racing, despite the pandemic. Given the difficulties everybody faced, Bishop was confident that Aston Martin is still on schedule with its five-year plan. “It’s difficult to say because everything will be fresh next year. From all the teams, not just us, there is very little carry over so next year will be all new. In terms of getting our sponsors in place, acquiring sponsors, moving towards renewing and enlisting sponsors and so on. All of that is going well and the hiring is going well.” With a healthy roster of sponsors, big players and also significant contributors in terms of value in kind, technology, companies such as Cognizant and SentinelOne who are helping fund the team in a big way, as well as Stroll Snr funding the team, Aston Martin is confident the plan will come together. “We have more sponsors I’m sure to come and we are hyping up very aggressively, including outside of Formula One,” Bishop said. And it doesn’t stop with sponsors. Team personnel is on the rise as they look to grow. “Some of the more senior people you read about in




“WE’VE STILL GOT A LOT OF WORK TO DO, BUT THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHY WE CAN’T DO IT” - ANDY STEVENSON press releases and some of the others you don’t. Every single week we have an email from HR and every single week we’re having new people joining because we want to become bigger and better.” One of Aston Martin’s new employees for 2021, was Jessica Hawkins who joined the team as a driver ambassador. “Obviously, it’s a dream come true,” Hawkins began. “There are very, very few people that get to sign with a Formula 1 team and to be one of those very few people is extremely special. Within the first hour of my first day, I was made to feel so, so welcome.” Clearly proud of being a part of the Aston Martin brand, Hawkins confirmed that she has signed a new contract with the team and will remain with them for the 2022 season. “I’m very pleased to be back with the team next year,” she said. Stevenson agreed that in order to reach the goal of winning the championship, personnel was one of the biggest areas that needed improvement. “We’ve hired some incredible talent over the last two years building up to this. It was always very difficult for us, and we had to keep the head count down, and we just didn’t have the cash flow to invest in the infrastructure, so the


team had fallen behind. I think in a very short period of time, we’ve managed to catch up. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t do it.” Sponsorship is the lynchpin of any Formula 1 team and it’s no secret that the team was under-funded for many years, and one of the things Aston Martin was really lacking was the tools to enable it to develop the team and the car. But with the team’s finances now secure since Stroll Snr purchased it, it has allowed investment in not only the infrastructure, but also in people. And being within the midfield of the F1 grid, one that is extremely strong right now, teams really are fighting for every point. “We were supposed to be putting the rules on hold for a year, because we wanted to ensure the future of Formula 1,” Stevenson stated. “That clearly didn’t happen, but what the rule change did was create quite a level playing field, which has made the racing incredibly tough, so you are really fighting for every single point.” With the points all to play for, talk turns to the cars. Of course, the big news for Aston Martin is the arrival of a new factory. Currently in the early stages, it will

be the first purpose-built F1 facility since the McLaren Technology Centre in 2004. It’s clear from the off that the team is very excited and proud of it. “Our factories have been a bit small, and a bit dated, but [the new factory] will be absolutely fit for purpose,” Bishop said. “That will give us a significant advantage. The factory is a tool. A good tool like all other good tools makes the car go faster.” “The new facility is purpose-built for modern-day Formula One,” Stevenson added. “We’re hoping that this will also give us a bit of an advantage over our competitors.” Designed internally so that everything flows through the building, the hope is that the process can be as efficient as possible in bringing design ideas to production and then to the racetrack. “I’ve been involved in the design of where the departments will sit, so it will work and flow through with the minimum amount of fuss on the way through, so that we can be extremely efficient,” Stevenson explained. “It’s an exciting project. We’ve seen the steelworks going up now, and it’s a huge construction, and what’s going up now is the first of three parts to the campus. That’s going to give us fantastic tools to get the job done.” Although Aston Martin is growing in numbers, it’s still far behind the likes of Mercedes, McLaren and

Ferrari, but that doesn’t mean the work is any different. And while the world of F1 may seem quiet from the outside world, within it, teams are working hard getting ready for the new season. “Car launches are a huge amount of work, a huge amount of creative effort, a huge amount of logistical achievement and teamwork,” Bishop explained. “This is complicated by COVID, making sure everything we do in terms of physical work is safe and secure and responsible. “We are expanding everywhere, including in engineering, but also in commerce and marketing making sure that we deliver a launch. The brand has to tell the right kind of story and be appropriate and desired by our partners, because in Formula 1, that’s what sponsorship is about. We have our own brand and our own brand mission, but we also need to be a vessel in which the brand and the brand mission and all our sponsors can sail.” It’s fair to say that 2021 didn’t go as expected for the Silverstone-based team, but while on track racing results have fallen short of the team’s own targets, Bishop is happy that the team has succeeded off it. “I think we’ve established the brand very well. Of course Ferrari has been associated with Formula 1, I would say probably more than any other brand and has




been ever present in Formula 1 since 1950. Obviously, Aston Martin hasn’t. So, I think one of the things that we’ve done is establish Aston Martin as a brand, and made it feel established.” It’s worth noting that when Jordan changed to Midland, TV commentators kept calling it Jordan. When Midland changed to Spyker, TV commentators kept calling it Midland. When Spyker changed to Force India and Force India changed to Racing Point commentators kept referring to it by the previous name. This hasn’t happened with Aston Martin. It has broken away from the shadows of the previous incarnations and created a presence all of its own. “It’s as if Aston Martin has always been in Formula 1. It feels like a fixture. It’s a modern evocation of British racing green: the cars look fantastic, the team kits look great, the trucks, the garages, all of those things… So, I think the team looks and feels right already. Even though we’re only in year one.” It’s very evident that the team has done some great storytelling and established a strong social media presence. One such engagement is Sebastian Vettel’s support of the LGBTQ+ community amongst other social causes and movements. “Seb has embraced this and it’s natural for him,” Bishop stated. “We’ve worked with him on it because it is something that is dear to his


heart: his environmental concerns, his litter picking. It’s the right thing to do and it’s important corporately now to acknowledge diversity and inclusion in general.” One such example of inclusivity and diversity is the hiring of Hawkins. As a female, as a racing driver, and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she is proof of the commitment Aston Martin is making to support equality. She echoed Bishop’s admiration of Vettel, who has helped Hawkins settle into her new role. “[Seb’s] a four-time world champion and he gives me way more time than he needs to. He is genuinely an incredible, incredible person, and everything that he stands for that it’s all genuine.” These things, along with running a women’s karting event in Saudi Arabia, have been very popular with Aston Martin’s sponsors. “I think that is the way the world is going”, Bishop said. “For instance, Cognizant, Peroni, Nitta and SentinelOne, all those sponsors really got behind our Pride initiative in the month of June which of course is Pride month. “We ran rainbow logos on our halo devices, with not only the full support but involvement of Cognizant’s CFO, Jan Siegmund who is a very prominent LGBTQ+ businessman in North America and has done a lot. He has written blogs - which I highly recommend - on the subject of diversity and inclusion. Cognizant is a

company with over 300,000 employees and Jan signs the cheques so that kind of diversity and inclusion is central to our brand mission as a Formula 1 team, and of course it’s central to Cognizant.” Both Vettel and Lance Stroll have signed contracts for another year, and while both drivers aren’t yet fighting for wins and podiums, Hawkins explains that the time she spends with them is often actionpacked. “They’re incredible!” she stated. “I sit through engineering debriefs and meetings, so I’ve picked up the kinds of things that Seb is looking for, and Lance is looking for on track. I’ve grown a lot of knowledge in areas that I didn’t expect to.” “We’ve worked with Lance previously, and we know he has a very, very raw talent,” Stevenson added. “He’s incredibly fast, a very, very fast race driver. Pairing him with Seb, and all of Seb’s world championships and experience, it’s all there for Lance to learn from him.” And in Vettel it’s clear Aston Martin has a very safe pair of hands. “I’ve been in the sport for over 30 years and I learn from Seb every single day.” Stevenson said. “The guy is incredible, and I can fully understand now why he won the championships that he did, because he does not leave one stone unturned. There isn’t one tiny, minute little detail that he’s not thinking about.” When it comes to briefings and debriefings, all the information is shared. Stevenson explains that Vettel

is always keen to impart knowledge and information. “There’s always something that we learn from Seb. We’ve got Lance there who’s learning all of this along with us as well. As a team, we’re growing, and it was always the intention when we signed Seb, that’s what we wanted to do, and we are really seeing that happen now.” Vettel’s not just helping the engineering side of the team, he’s also working with Stroll, enabling him to be a more complete driver. “Seb’s a great addition to the team, and is continuing to do a great job, and Lance is learning,” explained Stevenson. “Every race weekend, [Lance] is learning more and more about what it takes to be a Formula 1 world champion, and the aim is that we get him there within the next five years.” It’s clear that Aston Martin has a strong set of targets and a clear plan on how it is going to deliver them. In the ever-changing world of Formula 1, it will be fascinating to see how that plan unfolds. The team may feel they underachieved in 2021 but picking up the pieces from a previous team in a sport still heavily affected by a pandemic, Aston Martin’s achievements are still something to be proud of. There will be big changes in F1 during 2022 and it will be interesting to see this time next year if those goals have been achieved.








as it gets




asting eyes across the pit complex of any major circuit, at any club race, is a sight to behold. An eclectic assortment of chassis, engines, makes, models and colours speckle the paddocks, under the shadow of the brick-and-mortar megaliths that cocoon them into safety. Steel beams and girders, purpose and function, sprinkled with the enthusiastic patter of retro-modern machinery organised into likeminded clusters, ready to do battle on the circuit just the other side of the inches-thick concrete pit wall. One active circuit however, oozes the ghosts of the ancestors that today flaunt their contemporary curves; rudimentary open-walled boxes in place of enclosed concrete columns, earth banks in place of Tecpro barriers, grass where there would be gravel. Steeped in a cavalcade of motorsport history and aged like a fine whiskey, Goodwood club racing is to UK motorsport what Bach is to music; one of the original masterpieces of pioneering, still appreciated and still being used to this day, and much like the music, the underpinnings are continuing to garner new fans and go from strength to strength. While club racing in the UK is abundant, there’s



nothing quite like Goodwood when it comes to the spectacle, and the annual Goodwood Members’ Meeting is arguably the most unique, charismatic club race on the entire UK racing calendar. In an experience akin to a tear in the space-time continuum, the collective assortment of motorsport history in action, organisation largely unchanged from its’ inception, treats both drivers and spectators alike to a dynamic time capsule. Bringing together the cream of the UK’s historic crop, Goodwood’s bygone-era register has always been a world-renowned fan favourite, exhibited every year at the wildly popular Goodwood Revival. From pre-war era gems to the might of 80s touring car monsters, the Revival is an event that blends on track bravado with off track retro styles and fashions, every facet of Goodwood’s most famous race meeting is like walking through a Polaroid of an era long passed, but not forgotten. However, for the global recognition the Revival attracts, fewer are aware of the arguably more ‘authentic’ Goodwood Members Meeting event. First held in 1948 at the whim of the 9th Duke of Richmond, the original Goodwood meetings were targeted to the British Automobile Racing Club, and

were a favourite among UK motorsport enthusiasts. The 2.3 mile circuit, looping around the perimeter of the RAF airfield that saw action in World War Two as a Battle of Britain station, hosted the first iterations of the now legendary club race. With a packed annual calendar and a large fanbase of the fast, flowing circuit, the original run of Members’ Meetings was held until 1966, when, after 71 editions, racing ceased mid-way through that year’s summer. 48 years passed without an active race meeting, aside from the notable Revival and Festival of Speed events, and after immense interest voiced by the Goodwood Road and Racing Club’s prestigious members, the Goodwood Members’ Meeting was brought to life in its’ 72nd iteration. Bringing back the flavour of those understandably rose-tinted glory days of competitive motorsport in the UK, the initial edition of the restarted Members’ Meeting attracted scenes not just akin, but practically

identical to the pure racing of the pre-closure period. Over 400 examples of premier historic automotive history took part in a plethora of races; the Gerry Marshall Trophy being one of the event’s standout highlights. For the first time in the circuit’s history, touring car behemoths from the turbo-tuned 1970s raced around the famed tarmac, and has since quickly become one of the UK’s most sought-after trophy cabinet additions. In keeping with the turbocharged celebration, a high-speed parade of Ayrton Senna’s iconic Lotus’ and Tolemans joined a raft of further event highlights, further bolstered by the world’s biggest Bugatti-only race, and an impressive display of Le Mans 24 Hour might. Off the track, too, the reinvention of the meeting has brought an intimate, enthusiast driven feel to contemporary motorsport - open access to all areas has made for a welcome change to many motorsport gatherings in modern times. Attendees are not just



Jakob Ebrey


treated to an unrestricted foray through the paddock and conversation opportunities with all the established drivers; off-track activities are aplenty. One of the most unique of these elements, aside from the multiple vendors and carnival-style games and rides on-site, is the inclusion of a house-based points system. Attached to multitudes of highly involved activities is a scoreboard, not unlike Harry Potter, wherein the participants can score points for the houses they are allocated upon joining the Goodwood Members’ cohort. The houses (named Aubigny, Darnley, Methuen and Torbolton and are all titles associated with the Duke of Richmond) compete in tug of war, ferret racing, and axe throwing, giving the spectators a genuine sense of involvement and fun. The competitors, too, are also assigned to houses, and aside from the obvious glory in taking home the top spots in the races, are competing for maximum points for their respective house groups. Some of motorsport’s most iconic names make up the honour roll of being House Captains for their houses; the latest rundown of Nicolas Minassian for Aubigny, Jochen Mass for Darnley, Anthony Reid for Methuen and Emanuele Pirro for Torbolton reads as an impressive who’s who of international motorsport talent it its’ own

right. Adding to the bulging grids are names like Jake Hill, Alex Brundle, Tom Kristensen and David Brabham, only highlighting the pulling power of the event. One name touted to make that prestigious list in the future is historic racing veteran and Porsche Carrera Cup driver Charles Rainford. The 23-year-old from Tunbridge Wells has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the historic ranks, having first burst onto the historic scene as a fresh-faced 16 year old in a CCK Motorsportrun 1960s-spec Lenham 1600 sports car in 2014. Just 5 years later, after the odd appearance at the Goodwood Revival, Charles would go on to share a 1958 Volvo PV544 with touring car legend John Cleland, bringing the car home 2nd overall. “The Members’ Meeting is probably my favourite event on the motorsport calendar,” Charles would detail. “It’s totally unique among all the race meetings in the UK, and probably the world. Competing not only for outright honours but also for your houses, and having the spectators being so integrated and involved in the whole event is amazing. For me personally, I love sharing my passion for the machinery we race with the enthusiasts who come along to enjoy watching them race, and at the Members’ Meeting they have



Gun Hill Studios


open access to be able to come up and corner us on whatever they want to talk about. That aspect really makes it something special.” Of the plethora of different classes and different events that take place , there are two that have come to be recognised as the crème-de-la-crème of the event; the Gerry Marshall Trophy for 1970’s touring cars, and the Graham Hill Trophy for GT cars. “The meeting itself is more like a club race meeting in that the classes aren’t filled with absolutely bonkers cars, although there may be a few, but the parity is a lot more achievable. The Gerry Marshall Trophy for touring cars and the Graham Hill Trophy for GT cars, though, is consistently the one that people who get a chance to race, want to win. It’s one of the toughest, and the machinery is incredible. “From a driver’s perspective, it’s undoubtedly the historic circuit to race on. It’s designed as it would have been for cars of the period, and as such, the cars feel really in their element there, unsilenced and raw. At somewhere like Spa or Silverstone, or any of the more modern circuits, the classic cars are a bit breathless by the end of the long straights, and they don’t like to stop very much. At Goodwood though, the fast and flowing nature of the circuit makes the cars come alive, and you can feel that it’s what they are built for. It makes the driving incredibly rewarding. “You really feel like you’ve hit the big time - seeing

all the fans packed against the barriers, the grid girls, the pomp and spectacle around it, every race makes you feel you’ve made it!” Having great results at the event isn’t just a great boost for the drivers, either. For those involved in preparing and running the historic heroes, the importance behind the event is reflected in what it means for their business. “The event is also vital for the historic business, and doing well at the Members’ Meeting sets the workshops involved up for more projects and people wanting to get that advantage for next year. It’s just as important for them as it is for us!” Despite the disruptions taking the world hostage over the past two years, the Goodwood Members’ Meeting has continued to flourish. The 2021 edition featured a bumper schedule of the UK’s most notable historic names, as well as enthusiast-stirring rolling demos from Bruno Senna in the McLaren MP4-6 and Gordon Murray in his brutally raw T.50, and for the first time included Rally Stages around the estate for an impressive collection of fire breathing rally legends. All the action carries over into an even bigger 2022, and come April 9, the 79th edition of the UK’s most prestigious and unique club race meeting will be underway to create more incredible motorsport memories.




Image credit: Zach Catanzareti


Motorsport has spawned some of the most extraordinary characters. One man might be the ultimate visionary. A former racer turned billionaire businessman; Roger Penske is arguably the most powerful man in racing. Enzo Ferrari, Sir Frank Williams, Bernie Ecclestone, and the France family were visionaries in their respective industries. Penske rubs his shoulders alongside those above, and at 84 years old, the ‘Captain’ is still racing on. Penske has done it all: businessman, team owner, track owner, and promoter. And he’s eyeing more success in 2022. Like many others, Penske wanted to become a racing driver. Despite winning SI’s SCCA Race Driver of the Year and taking part in some F1 races, Penske’s career never took off. He’d never fulfil his dream of racing in the Indy 500, and in 1965, Penske called it quits. Unbeknown to the world, however, Penske was already mapping out the following stages of his career. After retiring to focus on his burgeoning car dealership, he immediately returned to motorsport. Penske entered the 1966 Daytona 500, and the bug bit him hard. The allure of the Daytona 500 was far too attractive to ignore. And while that entry didn’t yield a victory, Penske had seen enough for a tilt at the most famous race of them all. A 2.5km tarmac strip nestled in suburban Indianapolis would become the breeding ground for Penske. Enchanted as a small boy, Penske wanted to win the race as an owner after never getting a chance to race there. Three years after Penske’s initial foray, Mark Donohue piloted his Penske machine to Victory Lane. Penske’s famous meticulousness and leadership quickly elevated the fledgling team up the ladder. Legendary drivers Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, and Danny Sullivan raced for Team Penske and experienced success. Penske didn’t just own the team; he called race strategy for his number one drivers. It worked superbly with Penske’s greatest drivers; Rick Mears triumphed four times at the Brickyard, and then Helio Castroneves would climb the fence on three different occasions during the 2000s.

Team Penske became an Indycar powerhouse. They are the most successful team on the Indycar grid with 12 championships, 163 wins, and 15 Indy 500 victories. The dominance allowed Penske to move into America’s premier racing series. Penske’s open-wheel success translated to tin-top racing as well. NASCAR welcomed a full-time Penske entry in 1991. Since then, Penske has won four championships and won over 170 races in the Cup and Xfinity series. The company was not content with winning on ovals and dabbled in sportscar racing in Europe and America. And with the realignment of sportscar racing, Penske and Porsche will team up under the new LMDH rules to take on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023. The team also ventured into the Aussie V8 Supercar championship and duly won it with Kiwi Scott McLaughlin. From a sole entry in 1969, the Penske empire comprises multiple teams across various territories. They are a racing behemoth. But racing is just one component of the Penske machine. Inspired by his father, Penske opened his first car dealership after racing. The Penske Automotive group now employs over 23,000 people and is a Fortune 500 company. An offshoot of the car garages was the transportation and trucking company. Penske Transportation Solutions operates over 340,000. In total, the Penske Corporation has made total revenue above $32 billion. However, Penske made his most important business decision in the last two years. At the end of 2019, Penske Entertainment purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and took control of Indycar’s commercial rights. 2020 proved the most challenging year, although Indycar enjoyed a bounceback campaign in 2021. Penske re-signed a new TV deal with NBC, and a revamped Brickyard welcomed the largest post-pandemic crowd in America. Indycar is slowly enjoying a resurgence in Penske’s hands. Despite passing retirement age, Penske has one more frontier to crack. Driver, strategist, owner, businessman, and promoter. The Captain is racing’s most powerful man.


Image credit: Gold & Goose / Red Bull Content Pool


It wasn’t too long ago that Honda was MotoGP’s powerhouse, winning the treble of the Riders’, Teams’ and Constructors’ Championships as recent as 2019. But in 2020, the Japanese manufacturer seemed to fall off a cliff, a very steep one at that. 2021 was still a struggle for Honda and the championship winning form they were used to just two years ago is still missing. There’s no doubt the season ending crash Marc Marquez suffered in the first race of 2020 has had a big effect on where Honda currently lies in the premier class. That injury alone may have exposed Honda’s weakness which Marquez’s excellence on the bike seemed to cover up. That weakness is that the RC213V was built for Marquez himself. So when he was ruled out for the entirety of 2020, that is where the problems started to come into play. In each championship-winning year Marquez has had in MotoGP, the closest a teammate has got to him in the standings was in 2013, his rookie year, when Dani Pedrosa ended third in the standings and 34 points shy of Marquez. Since then, it has been a downhill slope, with no teammate matching Marquez’s pace consistently throughout one season. With the 28-year-old missing from the grid for 2020 and the start of 2021, Honda realised it needed to make a bike which all four, not just one, of its riders could challenge on at the front. Honda quickly found itself looking at LCR rider Taka Nakagami to lead the way in 2020 when their star man was absent. But on a year-old spec machine, the Japanese rider was unable to pull off anything special bar a pole position at the Teruel Grand Prix. The manufacturer realised it needed to give full support to all four of its riders if progress was to be made, and Nakagami was offered a multi-year contract until at least the end of 2022 with full factory-spec backing from the Honda outfit. 2021 was the first time Nakagami was provided with a factoryspec RC213V on the MotoGP grid, so the Japanese manufacturer has already taken a positive step in realising the best way to


move back to the front is having four riders on the same bike. The past year was one of the weakest in Honda’s MotoGP history, especially in recent years. Even with Marquez back on the bike, the majority of the year was all about recovery for the Spaniard, but he did begin to show signs of full strength with three wins to his name. Honda’s newest rider Pol Espargaro even gave glimpses of potential on the Japanese bike, with a second-place finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix late on in the 2021 campaign. Going into the future, how Honda bounces back from a twoyear stint where it has finished fourth and fifth in a Constructors’ Championship with only six manufacturers depends on how it listens to all four riders. Marquez is once again fighting to be back fit for the start of the 2022 season after suffering a double vision injury late on in 2021, so Honda must be ready to build a bike its other three riders can fight at the front on should Marquez be absent again. Honda’s bike has been famously one that is difficult for riders to master in the past, with Jorge Lorenzo, a five-time World Champion, failing to gain a top-10 finish when he raced on the Honda bike in 2019. Therefore, another key area Honda will be focusing on is the rideability of the RC213V going into 2022 and beyond. Making sure all four riders feel comfortable on the bike will bring greater rewards in having much more feedback and understanding of where the problem areas of the bike are. Development will be key as 2022 progresses, with Ducati looking like the early favourite this year it will be crucial for Honda to get off on the front foot and try to pose a problem for their rivals. 2022 may not be a championship winning season for Honda, but if the bike can at least be consistently inside of the top-five each race, the Japanese manufacturer will find itself on the right track.

Image credit: Richard Styles


It’s no secret that spiralling costs within the world of motorsport means it’s hard for anyone - no matter how talented - to make a career out of racing. To begin racing in single seaters these days, you are looking at a budget of £100,000 or more just to get on track, and in the current climate, with COVID-19 still very much at large, it’s incredibly difficult for drivers to secure the funding they need to go racing. But hopefully, with a new series named Formula Foundation, the future for karting graduates isn’t totally bleak if your bank account isn’t full to the brim with cash. Formula Foundation is looking to provide an affordable solution for drivers graduating from karting, who are looking to take that next step on the motorsport ladder but that doesn’t want to be spending six figures on racing every year. And the Formula Foundation RSR 001 has been built solely with affordability in mind. The lightweight car costs £38,750+VAT to purchase outright, and from there it’s been specifically designed so that the car is easy and cheap to maintain. “From my point of view, there’s a need for a junior spaceframe car”, Formula Foundation founder Steve Wills said to The Pit Stop. “There’s a need now for this car in the UK for dad and lad to be able to turn up with the car and have some fun. Because these days it’s all dead serious and it puts parents under massive, massive pressure financially. So there is a clear need for a budget car to fulfil this marketplace.” Mounted transversely within the spacefame chassis is a 1.6 Zetec SE Ford engine - the same engine you’d find in your Ford Focus - and it is capable of producing 120bhp. The engine and the five-speed manual gearbox that’s fitted to the car are both sealed and a single ECU map is supplied, meaning that no modifications can be made to ensure any championship would promote identical machinery whilst also keeping costs down.

Affordability was also kept in mind when designing the body of the car. The body is made up using multiple GRP panels which can be replaced as and when required for a much lower cost than the likes of Formula 4 and beyond. Whereas a replacement Formula 4 wing would set you back thousands of pounds, the Formula Foundation’s nosecone costs a fraction of the price at around £250-£300. It means that if a driver were to have an incident during the season, it wouldn’t automatically write off the rest of the year without additional investment. “We’ve come up with a car that’s much simpler, much more affordable. The engine is £2,500 to put in, rather than the best part of £8,000-£10,000. You just turn the key and away you go, and that’s the idea behind the car,” explained Wills. “When we designed the body we went for what I call the ‘Formula E look’, with the Indycar sidepods to try and make the car look as nice as we can. “We were determined to keep the price down. I’ve tried to come up with a car that fits the pocket of some. Not all, but some, and makes motorsport enjoyable for lad and dad, mum and daughter. And you can run this car yourself. “What that means is you can pitch up to a track and run this car easily with minimal tools and minimal knowledge.” Formula Foundation is currently anticipating to get its first UK championship underway in 2023, while there are also aspirations to have championships throughout Europe and beyond in the future.






Although every precaution is taken to ensure accuracy of published content, The Pit Stop cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed, facts supplied by its writers and/or errors of production in any sort. All material in this magazine may not be reproduced, or distributed in any form without written permission from The Pit Stop.