BTCC Oulton Park – Butcher takes win as Rowbottom steps up title chase

Rory Butcher secured the win in round 11 of the British Touring Car Championship in a frenetic second race at Oulton Park.

He took the lead on lap one and held on with Dan Rowbottom and Adam Morgan completing the podium.

Rowbottom made the best start and held on to the lead with Butcher and Gordon Shedden in tow. Butcher held off his brother in law and made a brave move on Rowbottom into the Knickerbrook chicane to take the lead.

On lap two Senna Proctor made a brilliant move down the inside of team mate Josh Cook and Jake Hill into the hairpin and passed both. Behind them Ollie Jackson and Jack Goff both collided. This ended Goff’s 100% points finishes record this season.

On lap three, same place, another collision as Colin Turkington tapped Cook, who slid into Jason Plato, with Cook coming off the worse and retiring from damage.

Butcher was pulling away but Rowbottom had to defend from Morgan, who was having another fantastic weekend around Oulton Park. Securing his second third place finish of the weekend.

Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram are both fighting for the title and have both recovered from setbacks to be in the top ten in race two.

Butcher strolled to the win with Rowbottom in 2nd and Morgan in 3rd. Hill, Moffat, Shedden Jelley, Sutton, Proctor and Ingram rounded off the top ten.

Pos Driver Car Team +/-
1 Rory Butcher Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo 17:35:137
2 Dan Rowbottom Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +1.695
3 Adam Morgan BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +2.500
4 Jake Hill Ford Focus MB Motorsport +2.944
5 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +3.200
6 Gordon Shedden Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +4.653
7 Stephen Jelley BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +5.811
8 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +6.035
9 Senna Proctor Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +6.305
10 Tom Ingram Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +6.546
11 Carl Boardley Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +6.661
12 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +6.826
13 Tom Chilton BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +10.693
14 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +15.436
15 Sam Osborne Ford Focus Motorbase +17.329
16 Aron Taylor-Smith Cupra Leon Team HARD +17.859
17 Jack Butel Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +18.613
18 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +20.108
19 Sam Smelt Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +20.317
20 Jade Edwards Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +20.575
21 Dan Lloyd Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +23.129*
22 Jack Mitchell Cupra Leon Team HARD +23.365
23 Rick Parfitt Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +24.281
24 Nicholas Hamilton Cupra Leon Team HARD +26.062
25 Jack Goff Cupra Leon Team HARD +4 Laps
Retirements
DMF Ollie Jackson Ford Focus MB Motorsport Damage
DNF Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing Crash
DNS Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR Damage

 

BTCC Oulton Park – Rowbottom takes first BTCC win in two-part race

Dan Rowbottom took his first ever BTCC race win in round ten of the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park in a two-part race.

On lap eight Tom Oliphant was pitched into a spin by Jason Plato, before being collected by Excelr8 drivers Chris Smiley and Rick Parfitt. On the restart Rowbottom took the lead and held on for the win.

The two Team Dynamics Honda’s made the best start and swamped pole sitter Senna Proctor at the start. Shedden led with Rowbottom close behind, Proctor fell to fifth with Morgan and Butcher getting past too.

Into the long sweeping left hander at Cascades, a few cars were forced off track, with Colin Turkington being one of them, sending him to the back.

By lap three the Honda’s were two seconds clear, as there were five second penalties dished out to Josh Cook, Ollie Jackson and Sam Smelt for being out of position at the start.

With title challenger Tom Ingram starting at the back of the grid, Ash Sutton was thinking about capitalizing on his rival being at the back. However Sutton was in the pits on lap four and fell to the back.

Proctor was recovering from his poor start and by lap seven he managed to pass Butcher at the tight hairpin and went into fourth place.

On lap eight Jason Plato dived down the inside of Tom Oliphant at the final corner, and made contact, spinning the BMW round and leaving him stationary at the top of the hill.

He was an innocent bystander as Chris Smiley hit him, and then shortly after RIck Parfitt careened into him to bring out the red flag. After a short period once debris was cleared, there was a six lap restart.

On the restart Rowbottom held onto the lead and held on, despite a strong fight from his team mate Gordon Shedden. The Scot has previous at Oulton when fighting with team mates, having collided with team mate Matt Neal a few years back to deny the team a 1-2.

Rowbottom held on for his first BTCC win with Shedden, Morgan, Butcher, Jelley, Moffat, Plato, Hill, Proctor and Goff rounding off the top ten.

Pos Driver Car Team +/-
1 Dan Rowbottom Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics 8:45:702
2 Gordon Shedden Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +0.384
3 Adam Morgan BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +2.104
4 Rory Butcher Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +5.885
5 Stephen Jelley BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +6.170
6 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +7.053
7 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +7.469
8 Jake Hill Ford Focus MB Motorsport +7.829
9 Senna Proctor Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +8.082
10 Jack Goff Cupra Leon Team HARD +8.444
11 Carl Boardley Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +9.405
12 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus MB Motorsport +10.629
13 Dan Lloyd Vauxhall Astra Vauxhall Astra +10.897
14 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +10.955
15 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +11.690
16 Aron Taylor-Smith Cupra Leon Team HARD +14.195
17 Tom Chilton BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +14.373
18 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +14.593
19 Tom Ingram Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +15.331
20 Jack Butel Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +15.580
21 Jade Edwards Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +16.384
22 Jack Mitchell Cupra Leon Team HARD +17.203
23 Sam Smelt Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +17.530
24 Sam Osborne Ford Focus Motorbase +4 Laps
Retirements
DNF Rick Parfitt Jr Hyundai i30N Excelr8 Crash
DNF Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N Excelr8 Crash
DNF Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR Crash
DNS Nicholas Hamilton Cupra Leon Team HARD Mechanical

 

BTCC Brands Hatch – Morgan takes lights to flag win in exciting final race

Adam Morgan took the final win of the day at Brands Hatch, the ninth win of his career and the first for Ciceley’s new car.

He led from start to finish in his new BMW 330i M Sport with Team HARD’s Jack Goff finishing second and Aiden Moffat rounded off the podium for Laser Tools.

Morgan was placed on pole thanks to the reverse grid draw, and used his rear wheel drive to his advantage as he led from lights to flag. Behind him was where all the action was.

There was an exciting race-long fight between Jason Plato and the BTC duo of Josh Cook and Senna Proctor. Proctor passed Plato on lap two before the veteran took his place back in to Druids.

Goff himself was in a new car, the Cupra Leon is new for 2021 and he took second on lap 11 and kept it there for an impressive result for the Team HARD outfit. The only retirement of the race came on lap 11 as Ollie Jackson’s bonnet came up and he pulled into the pits and retired the car to cap off a frustrating weekend for him.

Another person who had a frustrating weekend was Colin Turkington, who avoided going point-less at a BTCC race weekend for the first time since 2003 with a 14th place finish.

Plato managed to pull away from the BTC Honda’s and hunted down Moffat. The pair enjoyed a ding-dong battle to the flag with Moffat prevailing and holding on to third place.

His team mate Ash Sutton took back the lead of the championship with Tom Ingram close behind.

Morgan took the win, win number nine of his career with Goff and Moffat on the podium alongside him. Plato, Cook and Proctor were next, with Rory Butcher, Sutton, Dan Lloyd and Chris Smiley rounding off the top ten.

Pos Driver Car Team +/-
1 Adam Morgan BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley 19:57:584
2 Jack Goff Cupra Leon Team HARD +1.541
3 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +3.807
4 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +3.819
5 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +4.448
6 Senna Proctor Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +4.874
7 Rory Butcher Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +5.343
8 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +6.011
9 Dan Lloyd Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +6.375
10 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +6.890
11 Dan Rowbottom Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +7.204
12 Tom Ingram Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +7.446
13 Jake Hill Ford Focus MB Motorsport +8.688
14 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +9.299
15 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +9.937
16 Gordon Shedden Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +10.141
17 Aron Taylor-Smith Cupra Leon Team HARD +12.633
18 Tom Chilton BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +14.169
19 Carl Boardley Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +14.431
20 Sam Osborne Ford Focus Motorbase +14.829
21 Jack Butel Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +16.248
22 Stephen Jelley BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +16.631
23 Sam Smelt Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +21.528
24 Glyn Geddie Cupra Leon Team HARD +24.674
25 Andy Neate Ford Focus Motorbase +27.802
26 Rick Parfitt Jr Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +28.456
27 Jade Edwards Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +28.683
28 Nicholas Hamilton Cupra Leon Team HARD +2 Laps
Retirements
DNF Ollie Jackson Ford Focus MB Motorsport Bonnet

 

BTCC Brands Hatch – Ingram’s title challenge comes alive after last gasp win

Tom Ingram took his second win of the season and took the lead of the championship after a last lap pass on Tom Oliphant. Ash Sutton stole second from Oliphant in a battle to the finish line.

A six lap safety car period broke up the race after Stephen Jelley and Gordon Shedden collided at Paddock.

Oliphant had another good start off the line, with Dan Rowbottom atoning for his poor start in race one by rocketing up to second. Shedden is tapped at Paddock Hill bend but recovers. However on lap two he wasn’t as lucky.

Stephen Jelley saw a chance to dive down the inside and Shedden shut the door too late, with the pair going off into the gravel at Paddock. Shedden resumed but Jelley retired and this brought out the Safety Car.

After a six lap Safety Car period racing resumed. On lap ten Jake Hill passed Ingram into Paddock Hill in a brilliant move.

However Hill got a puncture heading into Clearways and lost two laps trying to fix it. Falling from third to the back of the pack.

Rowbottom challenged Oliphant for the lead and went around the outside of Druids. This left the door open for Ingram who took second by the end of lap 18.

There were interesting battles throughout the pack, with Jack Goff and Senna Proctor fighting for tenth place. It was the Yorkshireman who prevailed, finishing tenth ahead of Goff.

On lap 23 of 27 Ingram was on Oliphant’s tail, who was for the second race in a row, defending incredibly well in a much heavier BMW.

Ingram finally made his move on the last lap as he dove down the inside at Paddock and slightly tapped Olihpant’s rear. He managed to get through at Druids and steal away for his second win of the season.

Ash Sutton is a driver who can never be ruled out, as he took third from Rowbottom on the penultimate lap before sneaking past Oliphant in a drag race to the finish line.

Ingram took the win from Sutton and Oliphant on the podium, with Rowbottom, Josh Cook, Dan Lloyd, Chris Smiley, Jason Plato, Aiden Moffat and Senna Proctor rounded off the top ten, with Adam Morgan taking the reverse grid pole position.

Pos Driver Car Team +/-
1 Tom Ingram Hyundai i30N Excelr8 24:56:451
2 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +0.489
3 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +0.527
4 Dan Rowbottom Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +0.972
5 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +1.213
6 Dan Lloyd Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +1.630
7 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +1.957
8 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +2.194
9 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +8.394
10 Senna Proctor Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +8.794
11 Jack Goff Cupra Leon Team HARD +9.232
12 Adam Morgan BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +10.066
13 Tom Chilton BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +10.468
14 Rory Butcher Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +11.212
15 Aron Taylor-Smith Cupra Leon Team HARD +11.599
16 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus MB Motorsport +13.169
17 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +13.590
18 Sam Smelt Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +14.034
19 Sam Osborne Ford Focus Motorbase +14.909
20 Carl Boardley Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +15.251
21 Jack Butel Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +15.518
22 Gordon Shedden Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +19.035
23 Jade Edwards Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +20.337
24 Rick Parfitt Jr Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +22.885
25 Andy Neate Ford Focus Motorbase +23.690
26 Nicholas Hamilton Cupra Leon Team HARD +23.986
27 Jake Hill Ford Focus MB Motorsport +2 Laps
Retirements
DNF Glyn Geddie Cupra Leon Team HARD Mechanical
DNF Stephen Jelley BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR Crash

 

BTCC Brands Hatch – Oliphant takes 2nd career win after valiant Shedden chase

Tom Oliphant took his second career win in round seven at Brands Hatch in the British Touring Car Championship.

He fended off a ruthless Gordon Shedden chase in his Honda Civic with pole sitter Dan Rowbottom recovering from a poor start to finish third.

The Team Dynamics driver took his first pole position yesterday, but had a poor start off the line and was engulfed by cars passing him. Oliphant took the lead and it was a lead he never surrendered.

Aiden Moffat had a good start and flew up to second, with Tom Ingram third but his lap wasn’t without drama as he got sideways coming out of Clearways but recovered without losing too much time.

Oliphant started pulling away from the chasing pack, with Shedden moving up to second and his hunt of Oliphant began. Behind them Ash Sutton had a great exit out of Paddock Hill bend to almost overtake Shedden and Moffat who were fighting for second.

By lap eight Oliphant had a 3.5 second lead over Shedden but the Scotsman set the fastest lap as he was attacking to chase down the leader.

Rowbottom made his way back up to third with Moffat and Jake Hill fightinf for fourth place.

While Oliphant was leading, his team mates were less fortunate, Stephen Jelley was given a five second penalty for a false start, dropping him to 15th at the checkered flag. Colin Turkington started 14th and had a spin on lap 15, dropping him down to 21st by the end of the race.

Shedden was really pushing to catch Oliphant, shaving plenty of time off his lead and was only 1.3 seconds behind by lap 19.

RIck Parfitt and Nicholas Hamilton had a collision at Druids on lap 22 and this put Parfitt into the crosshairs of the leading duo. On the final lap Oliphant was almost held up by Parfitt but it didn’t factor in as Shedden’s valiant chase came up just short, finishing two tenths behind him.

An impressive win for Oliphant with Shedden and Rowbottom taking a double podium for Team Dynamics.

Hill, Sutton and Ingram were next with Chris Smiley, Moffat, Josh Cook and Jack Goff rounded off the top ten once Jelley’s penalty was applied.

Pos Driver Car Team Gap
1 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport Team  WSR 19:50:305
2 Gordon Shedden Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +0.188
3 Dan Rowbottom Honda Civic Type R Team Dynamics +4.603
4 Jake Hill Ford Focus MB Motorsport +9.811
5 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +10.007
6 Tom Ingram Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +11.289
7 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +11.633
8 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +11.938
9 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +15.398
10 Jack Goff Cupra Leon Team HARD +15.720
11 Dan Lloyd Vuaxhall Astra Power Maxed +15.982
12 Senna Proctor Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +16.339
13 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Power Maxed +17.510
14 Stephen Jelley BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +18.771*
15 Rory Butcher Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +19.025
16 Carl Boardley Infiniti Q50 Laser Tools +19.257
17 Adam Morgan BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +22.713
18 Aron Taylor-Smith Cupra Leon Team HARD +23.051
19 Tom Chilton BMW 330i M Sport Ciceley +23.443
20 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport Team WSR +24.816
21 Sam Osborne Ford Focus Motorbase +24.883**
22 Jade Edwards Honda Civic Type R BTC Racing +25.081
23 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus MB Motorsport +27.159
24 Sam Smelt Toyota Corolla Toyota Gazoo +28.500
25 Jack Buutel Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +28.720
26 Andy Neate Ford Focus Motorbase +33.172
27 Glyn Geddie Cupra Leon Team HARD +36.402
28 Nicholas Hamilton Cupra Leon Team HARD +37.808
29 Rick Parfitt Jr Hyundai i30N Excelr8 +1 Lap

* – Stephen Jelley received a five second penalty for a false start.

**-Sam Osborne received a 6.2 second penalty for gaining an advantage

Dan Rowbottom signs for Team Dynamics – Yuasa leave team and BTCC after ten years

It’s all change for Team Dynamics as they sign a new driver, gain a title sponsor, and lose another as title sponsor Yuasa have left the team after ten glorious years in the British Touring Car Championship.

After news broke of Dan Rowbottom taking the second Honda seat alongside the returning Gordon Shedden, it was confirmed that Cataclean, a partner of Rowbottom would become a sponsor of the team alongside the long-standing Halfords.

Rowbottom made his BTCC debut in 2019 with Ciceley Motorsport, and after sitting out 2020, he returns after a ‘lifeline’ from one of the sport’s most famous names.

Rowbottom had a season in BTCC in 2019 with Ciceley Motorsport. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

“I was thrown a bit of a lifeline with a call from Matt Neal suggesting we should get together and have a chat about the future!  To be honest it was a real ‘pinch yourself moment’ one moment no racing, then next I had the main man of BTCC suggesting that it might be possible to join Team Dynamics,” Rowbottom stated in a press release on his website.

Neal was happy to have Rowbottom in the team and will play a more mentoring role in his development. “It’s great to have Dan join the team, he’s got previous experience in the BTCC, so he knows what to expect and how competitive it is.  I know he has set himself some pretty realistic, yet tough goals and I’ll be there to help and mentor him and make sure we achieve the best results we can for him and for the team”

Dynamics and Yuasa is one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the BTCC. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

This therefore means Yuasa leave the team, after 11 trophy laden seasons with Team Dynamics. In a  press release from the battery brand, they stated: ‘During their 10 years (11 seasons) in the sport, Yuasa has enjoyed phenomenal success with the team and their drivers Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Dan Cammish.

‘With Yuasa’s backing Matt and Gordon both became three-time BTCC champions, and Dan narrowly missed out on his first BTCC title at nail biting season finale in 2019. In fact, since the relationship began in 2010 Yuasa and Team Dynamics have shared a phenomenal 78 race wins, 232 podiums, 4 drivers’ championships, 5 teams and 5 manufacturers titles.’

This of course means Matt Neal won’t be on the grid next year, but he is expected to remain heavily involved in the team and the garage.

A tribute to Murray Walker

The news that Murray Walker had died aged 97 was as heart-breaking as it was sudden, but he was a man who lived a long, excellent life – and he spent it entertaining and inspiring generations.

The more you look at the fallout from Murray’s passing, the more you realise that it was not just British fans that treasured the voice of Formula One, but the death of such a lovely human being is being mourned by motorsport fans around the world.

Murray was the voice of some of the most amazing moments in the history of Formula One and motorcycle racing; he even provided his emotive and unmistakable voice to the British Touring Car Championship too.

Honestly though, so much adulation and collective sentiment for a perpetual hero of Formula One cannot be summed up by one person in an article. Murray produced some infamous quotes, provided notoriously emotional soundtracks to some of the most incredible moments in motorsport, and touched the lives of many, so we thought we should include some thoughts from all of us here at the PitCrew Online.

Image Courtesy of Ian McWilliams

For me, Murray Walker was, and always will be, the voice of Formula 1. I grew up listening to Murray and loved the way he could convey the excitement of F1 and his absolute passion for the sport. My fondest memory is of Damon Hill crossing the finishing line and winning the championship when he says he has a lump in his throat making you realise he had known Damon as a man and boy and obviously knew Damon’s father, Graham. – Karen

“I watched, F1 in the 80s, wanted to be a racing driver, then i choose more boring things, anyhoo. James and Murray guided me through F1, with James’s hate of slow back markers, and Murray’s enthusiastic and over optimistic ‘comms’. Oh and he had the curse all right, Australia’86 will stick in many peoples’ heads. Talking of heads. I’m sure Damon and Nigel, have forgiven him many moons ago.
“Oh and he had the commentator’s curse all right”  – Taras

RIP Murray.

My favourite moment was the 1998 Belgian GP at spa when Murray commentated on the biggest accident in F1 history on lap one, he showed genuine shock and concern for the drivers involved. He nearly jumped out of his chair when Michael Schumacher rear-ended David Coulthard in the rain, then saw Damon Hill and Ralph Schumacher secure the Jordan team’s first ever win and one-two in one of the most exciting and unforgettable races ever. Murray was not just a commentator he was a real F1 fan and that is why so many people loved him, he was captivating to listen to and embodied the essence and excitement of racing. – Mandy

Murray Walker is synonymous with Formula One. In fact, he IS Formula One. He was always more than just a commentator: He was the friendly voice that encouraged you into the sport, he was the passionate fan that infected you with his enthusiasm and he was an orator capable of wonderful storytelling. He was a man that simply wanted to share his love for motorsport with the rest of the world, and we thank him for that. We will miss you Murray. – Adam Wheeler

Mine and many others’ first voice of F1. The only voice of F1 for some. Murray Walker was a treasure to me, to Formula One and to Great Britain as a whole. An imperfect genius behind the microphone, and we’ll never see his like again. – Jack Prentice

As a small boy mum used to sit me down in front of the TV whenever Murray was on, it was the only way to keep me still and quiet, he’s literally responsible for my life’s greatest passion!

Thanks for all the amazing memories and for giving me a love of motorsports that is such a big part of my life. – Simon Tassie

RIP, Murray

My Murray Walker Memories

When I think of Murray Walker, I don’t just think of Formula One, but also British Rally Cross and the British Touring Car Championship. He was THE motorsport commentator, and his style was utterly unique! I discovered motorsport in my late teens, and by the end of 1991 was following the WRC, BTCC and Formula One. Murray was commentating on the BTCC and Formula One for the BBC and this meant that you would hear Murray’s commentary throughout the year as the races came and went.

He retired from commentating during the 2001 Formula One season, but remained a much-loved man, and would pop up from time to time with great interviews with the drivers and other characters from the motorsport community.

As we’ve seen, he will be massively missed by everyone. My thoughts are with his family and friends – Thank you for sharing him with us. – Warren Nel

Growing up in South Africa, Murray was the voice to an F1 world that we could only see on television. He made me feel connected to this world that was so far away (as a child I felt that way) and is the reason my love of F1 grew. He was and will always be the voice of the greatest sport ever and the voice I always hear in my head at lights out. – Rhea Morar

Murray was the best of us. His child-like enthusiasm was infectious; it resonated with us all. It was Murray who said that those who can do and those can talk about it, which is true to all of us who contribute to the PitCrew Online. Murray laid the foundations so we could run, and we are all eternally grateful. Murray’s unrivaled passion for racing has driven every single one of us. Thank you for everything Murray – Luca Munro

As a kid growing up my parents bought me a VHS – Murray’s Magic Moments. I watched it again and again, enthralled by his infectious commentary over some of F1’s most iconic moments. So much so that I know quote them verbatim when I see them on TV. Murray Walker was more than just a commentator, he was a fan first and foremost, and brought that passion to millions around the world. He’s an icon and a pillar of motorsport. His BTCC commentary is also hugely popular and something I love watching again and again. Sleep tight Murray, a gentleman and in a world of egos, his humble nature and passionate commentary will live on. “And now I’ve got to stop, cause I’ve got a lump in my throat.” – Aaron Irwin

Murray was the voice of F1 across the world not only the UK; he was just a legend in motorsport. The word legend at times is used too frequently, but I grew up listening to his iconic voice and murrayisms like ‘Go Go Go!’ He, in my view, should be immortalised at Silverstone on the national circuit as he was there when it all began! His legacy will continue to inspire all; he was truly unparalleled in knowledge and how to put it through the microphone. – Chris Lord

Murray brought races to life with his enigma and his pure passion for racing. He has inspired and will continue to inspire generations in motorsport and broadcasting. We will miss you, Murray.

The Gladiator mindset of a Racing Driver

It is no secret that, a few years ago, a crash like the one Romain Grosjean suffered would have surely resulted in death.

So many things and so many people came together to help protect Romain and save the Frenchman’s life, and many of those people are now looking down as Guardian Angels.

Romain Grosjean was extremely fortunate to escape his huge crash in Bahrain last weekend – Courtesy of Haas Media

Amazing pioneers like Professor Sid Watkins and Charlie Whiting have played such a monumental part in the safety of Formula One drivers today, and those two will have been looking down, smiling as their relentless work in the push for safety paid off for Romain, as it has done for so many.

But some are still right here with us. Extremely special mentions have to go to medical driver Alan van der Merwe and Doctor Ian Roberts, whose quick thinking aided Grosjean in getting out of his flaming and broken Haas. Furthermore, the marshal who ran all the way across the track to help put out the fire, risking his life in the process, deserves much praise for his brave efforts.

My colleague Tim Weigel discussed in his piece not long ago the concerning brittleness of the barrier which caved in, causing the shocking sight of the front half of the car wedged in the wall. This is something that the current heroes protecting our drivers will doubtless look into, but overall, every safety device worked to perfection.

Without the functionality of even one of those components, the situation would have been greatly and we perhaps might have been looking at a fatality.

One of said components used to be one of the most polarising subjects in F1 upon its introduction in 2018 – the Halo. In the end, the name is the most apt description; not only is it round, but it is the protective layer that so brilliantly looked after Grosjean at the Bahrain Grand Prix. No one now is left in doubt about the positive effect it has had – it even saved Charles Leclerc’s life in Belgium the very year it was introduced.

After two years of testing, the protective Halo device was introduced in 2018 – Courtesy of Jake Archibald released under Creative commons 2.0

But what I also wanted to talk about is the unbreakable mentality of a racing driver. All 19 of them, following Grosjean’s horror-crash and subsequent miraculous escape, put their helmets back on and went racing again. Remarkably, Lance Stroll’s collision with Daniil Kvyat, which saw the Canadian upside down, seemed terribly minor compared with the horrific events we had just witnessed an hour prior. But everyone gave it everything they had, fully aware and freshly, painfully reminded of the risks they were taking to give us a show under the lights.

Grosjean’s Haas team Principal Guenther Steiner said, as Romain was recovering in hospital, that the Frenchman is aiming to return to the team in Abu Dhabi – if he is cleared to race, he will likely be taking part in his last race in F1. He is being released by Haas at the end of this year along with team mate Kevin Magnussen, but he is replaced for the second race in Bahrain this weekend by Pietro Fitipaldi.

Brazilian Pietro Fittipaldi will deputise for Grosjean this weekend – Courtesy of Haas Media

Grosjean’s reported eagerness to return underlines the courageous and unbelievable mental toughness of a racing driver – not just in Formula One, but in the whole of motorsports. Anyone would be forgiven for neglecting to race after experiencing or seeing a crash the magnitude of Grosjean’s, but Formula one’s Gladiators are not alone in bravely fighting on.

I caught up with BTCC driver Bobby Thompson as he prepared for a sim race on a Friday night, followed by a weekend of racing at Donington park. He suffered an enormous shunt in Croft in October, and he told me about the fighting spirit that exists within a racing driver.

Bobby Thompson has recently recovered from a big shunt himself – Courtesy of BTCC Media

“When you’re putting the helmet on that’s one of the risks to begin with,” he told me candidly. “After the crash you’re ready to just jump back in. If anything, you’ve had a bit of time out, and you’re really eager to get back out there.”

I found it was also important to mention the progress in risk limitation in F1 and the realm of motorsport. In Formula One, for instance, there were 37 fatalities between 1950 and 1994, yet there has only been one since. That one since Ayrton Senna at Imola was Jules Bianchi, and his tragic accident in 2014 prompted a series of rule changes and safety feature installations, many of which saved Romain Grosjean in Bahrain.

Asked about the safety advances in motorsports, he heaps praise on the governing bodies who have fought to limit the risks on track. “Even in club racing now, everything’s monitored a lot finer; even the junior single-seater formulae now are starting to get halos, which should have been from the start really. If we just go back five years before the halo, Grosjean still might not have been here [after his Bahrain crash] so even the last five years have been incredible.”

Thompson has been racing for AMD Technik Essex in BTCC this year – Courtesy of BTCC media

A huge thanks to Bobby Thompson for his time, and a massive tip of the hat to everyone, past and present, whose heroic and devoted hard work paid off last Sunday, and will continue to do so for many years hence.

Celebrating disabled drivers

In any sport it’s an incredible feat to be able to compete whilst having a physical disability. Motorsport is one of those sports where the differences between a driver without a physical impairment and drivers who do, can be highlighted in some areas but can be completely unnoticeable if you weren’t aware of a driver’s disability beforehand.

To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we decided to talk about a few drivers who are breaking down barriers in racing for those with disabilities.

Alex Zanardi

Having competed in F1 for many years, Alex was competing in the CART World Series at the Lausitzring in 2001. Exiting the pits 12 laps from the end of the race, he lost grip on cold tyres and slid into oncoming traffic, where he was hit by another car at over 200mph. He survived despite losing nearly 75% of his blood volume, but lost both his legs in the crash.

With the use of hand controls Alex went on to race again in the World Touring Car Championship, Blancpain Sprint Series, Spa 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hours, and also made a one-off appearance in DTM in 2018 at Misano. However he made a real name for himself by competing in the Paralympics.

Alex won a handcycling gold and a relay silver in the London 2012 Paralympics (both events taking place at Brands Hatch) and another gold and silver in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, as well as plenty of other accolades in the Para-cycling World Championships.

Unfortunately Alex was involved in a para-cycling road race accident in June of this year, when he lost control of his handbike on a hill and hit an oncoming truck. He suffered severe facial and cranial trauma, and was placed into a medically induced coma.

We all know from the ordeals he’s had to go through that if anyone can overcome this, it’ll be Alex Zanardi. A true hero to disabled people all around the world.

Billy Monger

After great success in karting, Billy Monger was competing at Donington in British F4 in 2017. In race three he collided with a slow moving car and his legs were buried in the wreckage. He was extracted and airlifted to hospital, but unfortunately had to have his legs amputated.

But this didn’t break Billy Whizz’s spirit. With the help of hand controls, Billy returned to single seaters in the 2018 British F3 championship, scoring four podiums and two pole positions to end the season sixth in the standings.

Billy moved up to EuroFormula the following year, where he achieved the seemingly impossible in a wet Pau Grand Prix. Making a clever call to pit for wets on the formation lap, Billy rose through the field to third then held his nerve in the tricky conditions to win after the two leaders collided.

You’ll see Billy as part of Channel 4’s F1 coverage, and he’s expressed interest in joining the new Extreme E off-road electric series for next year. I certainly hope this happens as Monger is one of the most inspiring individuals you could ever know and he deserves to race.

Nathalie McGloin

McGloin is a British racing driver who is also a tetraplegic. She injured her spine in a road traffic accident as a teenager and has been competing in the Porsche Sprint Challenge against able bodied men. She’s the only disabled woman in the whole of the UK to hold a race and rally licence in the UK, and competes with radial hand controls that she pushes forward to brake and backward to accelerate, meaning she steers with one hand at all times!

Not only has she managed many podium finishes in the Porsche championship (including an outright victory at Silverstone in 2018), she’s also the President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission. Definitely deserving of a place on this list.

Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo (Florent Gooden, DPPI / Alfa Romeo Media)

Perhaps the most well known name on this list. He enjoyed huge success as the first Polish driver in F1, including his famous win with BMW Sauber in 2008. However all that changed in the lead up to the 2011 season.

After testing his new Renault F1 car, Robert entered an amateur rally event and collided with a guardrail, resulting in elbow, shoulder and leg fractures and partially severing his right forearm. He thankfully survived, but the injuries put him out of F1 for the foreseeable future.

Robert stuck to the rallying scene on his road to recovery and won the WRC-2 championship in 2013. But in 2017 he returned to F1 machinery with a Renault test, which ultimately led to a fairytale opportunity to return as a full time driver with Williams for 2019.

He scored their only point of the year at Hockenheim but wasn’t kept on for 2020. Nevertheless seeing Kubica back in F1 did feel right, and he has since took up a position as Alfa Romeo’s development driver while also competing in DTM this year, where he took a podium at Zolder.

Nic Hamilton

The first thing you’d think of is that he’s the brother of a certain seven-time F1 world champion. But the younger Hamilton has been making a name for himself for years.

Nic has had cerebal palsy since birth, resulting in physical impairments his whole life. But having initially gotten a taste for competition on video games (long before Esports was in the mainstream), he started competing in the BTCC-supporting Renault Clio Cup and then in European Touring Cars.

2019 however was when he finally got to where I feel he belonged, British Touring Cars. Seeing someone with cerebal palsy in the headline races on a terrestrial TV channel is incredibly uplifting to witness.

Frédéric Sausset

When on holiday in 2012, businessman and motorsport enthusiast Frédéric contracted a life-threatening infection from a scratch on his finger, which resulted in him becoming a quadruple amputee. However he didn’t let this prevent him from fulfilling his lifelong ambition of racing the 24 hours of Le Mans.

OAK Racing converted one of their LMP2 cars so Frédéric could drive it in the 2016 race. He used a special steering wheel which connected to a prosthetic on his right arm, and he had two thigh operated paddles built into his seat insert for the accelerator and brake.

The result was that Sausset and his teammates entered into the grueling round-the-clock race and finished it. A remarkable achievement and one that cannot even be imaginable for someone in his position, but he did it.

Caleb McDuff

Caleb McDuff (Photo courtesy of Ian McDuff)

Last but not least, Caleb McDuff is a 12-year old kart racer who is profoundly deaf. When he competes in karting, he can’t utilise his implants and so he races in total silence. Which, when you consider how reliant a lot of drivers are on the sound of their vehicle to race, is just incredible to think about.

Not only is Caleb able to compete in karting but he’s actually pretty good. Last year, he won the Super One National Karting Championship’s Honda Cadet category so he’s clearly capable of overcoming his impairments. I would very much hope he’s able to make the step up to cars in the future, whether that be single seaters or tin-tops.

Every single one of these people are so incredibly inspiring and serve as reminders that the human spirit is impenetrable. Whatever the cards you are dealt with in life, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to and we are bound by absolutely nothing. So happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities to you all!

Autosport International Show Gallery 2020

At this years Autosport International Show, there were some pretty iconic cars on display, from all parts of the motorsport world.

The main feature included Seventy Years of Motorsport, and there were some incredibly beautiful cars on display from Le Mans, World Rally Championship, Indycar, British Touring Car Championship, Formula One and Formula E.

All were game changers in their own way.

The decades of the 1950’s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s are all represented.

Away from there, there were other amazing displays. The Le Mans Toyota TS050 from 2018, the car that finally gave Toyota the victory that it has craved for decades, with Sébastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima sharing the driving duties.

There was a display of Formula One cars as well.

Below is a group of classic rally cars – Some iconic machinery here, from the seventies, eighties, nineties and two-thousands. Three cars driven by Colin McRae featured as well.

Well, we hope that you have enjoyed this look back to this year’s Autosport International Show, while we wait for the racing season to re-start.

 

All photos courtesy of Warren Nel