Quick 10 With…..Steve Parrish

He turned professional in 1976 won the ACU Solo title in the British Motorcycle Championship. He became a team mate to the late, great Barry Sheene and competed in the 1977 500cc World Champioinship where he finished 5th. He was 500cc British Champion in 1978 and won the Shell 500 title in 1979 and 1980. He also competed at eight Isle Of Man TT’s.

After retiring from motorcycle racing in 1986 he took up truck racing. In 1987 he was the British Open Truck Racing Champion and in 1990 he won both the European and British Truck Racing Championships. He held the British title for four years and retained the European title for three years. He won the European title again in 1996. He is the most successful British Truck racer ever.

Outside of truck racing he was UK Yamaha Factory team manager from 1987 to 1991 and led the team to three British Superbike Championships in 1987, 1989 and 1990. He is a regular on our TV screens commentating on bike racing, more recently World Superbikes, and is also a regular presenter of the Isle Of Man TT programmes.

These are his Quick 10 and he is…..Steve Parrish.

1. What is your favourite circuit and why?

Spa Francorchamps had some great races there on the old circuit, beating Ago was one time in 1977

2. Who is/was your racing idol?

Barry Sheene then and Valentino Rossi

3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?

Everyone is your toughest opponent especially if they are in front of me but probably Barry Sheene, always need to try to beat your team mate!

4. Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?

Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez

5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?

Barry Sheene, Mike Hailwood, Roger Federer and Marco Simoncelli

6. Personal racing number? What is it and the reason behind it?

No. 6 – No particular reason it was the only one available at the time plus it was one less than Barry Sheene NO.7 !

7. What is the best race you have been involved in?

Spa 1977 when I had a great battle with Pat Hennen, Steve Baker and Ago and beat them all!!!

8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in, that you would like to or had wanted to?

British Touring Cars

9. How did you get into motor racing? What ignited that spark?

Got into it because I loved engines and taking them a part and we had a disused airfield nearby so I would take my brothers bike and ride up and down it

10. What is the best advice in racing you have been given?

Preparation, Preparation, preparation! Always check the motorcycle, car, truck over before getting on it!

I know Steve is a very busy man, so I would like to not only thank him for taking the time out from his hectic schedule to answer these questions but for the also the interaction on Twitter where is always kind enough to answer a Tweet and be entertaining.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Photo Credits: www.steveparrishracing.com

Quick 10 With…..Mattias Ekstrom

2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship / Round 03, Mettet, Belgium / May 14 – 15 2016 // Worldwide Copyright: IMG/McKlein

He is currently racing in DTM for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and in the FIA World Rallycross Championship for the team he founded, EKS RX. He is a Swedish Touring Car champion, two-time DTM champion (2004 & 2007) and has won the Race of Champions three times (2006, 2007 & 2009). He has also raced in V8 Supercars, the World Rally Championship, European Rallycross, the Global Rallycross Championship, competed in the Bathurst 1000 and in the NASCAR Sprint Cup at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in 2010. He is one of the most dynamic and charismatic drivers in racing and it was my absolute pleasure to put my Quick 10 questions to…….

MATTIAS EKSTROM

1. What is your favourite circuit and why?

Nürburgring-Nordschleife – it’s simply unique.

2. Who is/was your racing idol?

Walter Röhrl.

3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?

Petter Solberg.

4. Considering drivers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which drivers would you have in your race team? (WRX or other)

Walter Röhrl, Sébastien Loeb, Petter Solberg.

5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?

Juan Pablo Montoya, Felix Neureuther, Frans and Novak Đoković

6. Personal racing number. What is it and the reason behind it?

#5 – because a lot of things in life have something to do with “5” – like you have 5 fingers on your hands.

7. What is the best race you have been involved in?

DTM Brno 2004 (winning my first DTM title under a lot of pressure), Bathurst 1000, NASCAR Sonoma, WorldRX Höljes, World RX Hockenheim.

8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in that you would like to or have wanted to?

No. Luckily I was able to try everything I wanted like WRC, NASCAR, V8 Supercars, DTM, WorldRX, GT racing.

9. How did you get into motor racing? What ignited that spark?

My father was a rallycross driver so I spent a lot of time in the paddocks when I was young. Despite that I wanted to become a tennis player. Then I drove a kart and from this moment I wanted be become a race driver.

10. What is the best racing advice you have been given?

Go hard or go home 🙂

It’s not often that you get to interview people you regard as your heroes or admire in racing, especially as a World Rallycross fan. This was one of those times. I would like to thank Mattias for taking the time to answer these questions and wish him the very best for the remainder of the season.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Photo Credits:

Mattias Ekström

 

Kristoffersson Wins In France

It was Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson who took victory at the Bretagne World RX of France in Round 8 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Andreas Bakkerud of Hoonigan Racing took second and Peugeot-Hansen’s Sebastien Loeb finished off the podium places.

One driver missing from the final was Mattias Ekstrom who had been leading the Intermediate Classification. He suffered a puncture in the first semi final and did not progress.

It was double champion Petter Solberg who was to benefit from Ekstrom’s misfortune, even though he missed out on the podium. Solberg goes to the World RX of Barcelona with a five point lead.

Kristoffersson is the fifth different winner this season but things did not start off too well for him.

“We couldn’t get it right yesterday. I was P10 after Q2 and the car didn’t fell right. My team worked really hard on the car overnight and in the rain this morning, the car felt amazing. This car and my driving style work very well together in the wet conditions.

Second place Bakkerud was happy with the weekend at Loheac.

“It was great to have both myself and Ken [Block] in the final for Hoonigan Racing Division. I feel like we are making progress each round. I’ve had four podium finishes in the last four rounds so I must be doing something right.”

Next up is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Asphalt: 60.4%

Length: 1.133km

2015 Result:

1st – Petter Solberg (Citroen DS3) – 4:51.051

2nd – Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo) – 4:53.724

3rd – Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) – 4:53.909

Fastest Lap – Johan Kristoffersson – 45.212

DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP

1st – Petter Solberg – 181

2nd – Mattias Ekstrom – 176

3rd – Johan Kristoffersson – 158

4th – Andreas Bakkerud – 157

5th – Sebastien Loeb – 141

6th – Timmy Hansen – 117

7th – Toomas Heikkinen – 101

8th – Robin Larsson – 71

9th – Timur Timerzyanov – 67

10th – Davy Jeanney – 60

11th – Anton Marklund – 59

12th – Janis Baumanis – 59

13th – Kevin Eriksson – 57

14th – Ken Block – 53

15th – Reinis Nitiss – 35

16th – Kevin Hansen – 30

17th – Niclas Gronholm – 26

18th – Liam Doran – 23

19th – Francois Duval – 18

20th – Andy Scott – 6

21st – Tommy Rustad – 4

22nd – Rene Munnich – 4

23rd – Jean-Baptiste Dubourg – 1

TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

1st – EKS RX (Ekstrom/Heikkinen) – 256

2nd – Team Peugeot-Hansen (Loeb/T.Hansen) – 226

3rd – Volkswagen RX Sweden (Kristoffersson/Marklund) – 188

4th – Hoonigan Racing Division (Bakkerud/Block) – 167

5th – World RX Team Austria (Baumanis/Timerzyanov) – 126

6th – Olsbergs MSE (Gronholm/Eriksson) – 80

7th – all-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport (Nitiss/Munnich) – 26

*one car teams (such as Solberg and Larsson) are not eligible for team championship points and Reinis Nitiss has announced that he will leave Munnich Motorsport after France and will return to Olsbergs MSE for Barcelona.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Photo Credits: FIA World Rallycross (c)

Adventures At Lydden – May 2016

World Rallycross

September 7, 2016

Back in May I wrote a feature article for The Pit Crew Online about my visit to the WRX at Lydden Hill. Now that the FIA World Rallycross Championship is a permanent fixture for this website, I thought I would republish my adventure.

The Saturday.

There are three things that I will take away from the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill. The series itself is insanely entertaining, Lydden Hill is a fantastic circuit and I have sunburn.

The sun literally blazed down at the weekend and what a glorious two days it was too. In my life as a racing fan and writer, I have been to some terrific circuits and events but I have to say that after my first visit to Lydden Hill and a WRX event it has definitely hit the button of ‘favourite’.

This visit had been planned for some while with a good friend of mine and we had both been counting the days. I had not planned to write an article for The Pit Crew, but as the date drew closer it morphed into a good idea. I had moved to Kent just over a year ago and quickly found out that Lydden Hill was on my doorstep. That was when the decision was made to attend the FIA World Rallycross Championship. A decision that proved to be outstanding.

I have been a big fan of World Rallycross since its inception, but this visit has made me fall in love with the event.

We arrived on the Saturday, a day that would include practice, two qualifying rounds of WRX and three qualifying rounds of the Super 1600’s and RX Lites. In between there would be stunt shows, drifting, Group B demonstrations and the chance to walk around a very accessible paddock area. Now, this is where WRX differs from a lot of other championships I have attended. It is quite normal to be standing in the paddock of a support series, but being inches away from the cars and drivers such as Sebastien Loeb, Ken Block, Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekstrom and Liam Doran! That was just quite unbelievable.

So, there I am getting out the car with the track in the dip below me and I was instantly impressed. My mate and I were treating Saturday as a bit of a recce but soon found out that the action on track was just non-stop. The turnaround in races at a World Rallycross event are extraordinary. No sooner are the cars on their warm down lap than the next set of cars are lined up on the grid. The 1600’s were out practicing and so we wandered up to North Bend and down the side of Hairy Hill.

The first set of awnings I came across had the Group B demonstration cars inside. They all looked retro and proud with big bodywork and even bigger spoilers. We sauntered down and came to the paddock area. First sightings were of the Super 1600 cars and we just casually walked by the garages as the drivers wandered around and the mechanics worked on the cars to get them ready for the upcoming qualifying heats. We took a zig-zag route and passed by the large awning of Terry Grant with his stunt cars. More about them later.

My first visit would be to Hoonigan Racing Division. There was Ken Block’s #43 car in it’s multi liveried glory sitting in the garage as a couple of mechanics made some adjustments. As I cast my eye up, there was the great man himself standing about two feet away from me. I crossed over the paddock to where Johan Kristoffersson’s car was up on a jack with the right wheelbase being looked at, an engineer busily replacing something which looked rather important.

Over at Team Peugeot-Hansen, both Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen were having hasty work done to their cars in readiness for the upcoming qualifiers. The mechanics looked a bit busy, too busy. Walk round the corner with World RX Team Austria awnings to the right. They had two helicopters in the field behind! Two!

We had been walking around looking at the paddock when I walked by a man wearing a baseball cap, Red Bull sponsored Audi shirt and sunglasses. I did a double take and continued to walk on as my brain tried to tell my mouth who I thought I had seen.

“That’s Andrew Jordan!” I said to my mate.
“Where?” He asked.

I pointed behind and with him being a big BTCC fan, he wandered back and with the subtle nature of a brick, leaned on the guard rail, turned and stared at Andrew Jordan. He looked across at me and nodded. I walked back and he got his camera out.

“Go get a pic,” he said.

I didn’t want to seem like a pillock so waited for a moment as he was in the middle of a conversation. Then, when I thought the time was right, I walked over.

“Andrew Jordan?” I asked.
“Yes, mate.” He replied.
“Do you mind if I have photo? Big fan of yours.”
“Sure.”

We stood next to each other and I had my photo taken with a BTCC champion. I thanked him for the photo and wished him the best of luck for the rest of the season. Bizarre! – Great spot though.

I walked down a bit further and there was the massive set-up of double world champion, Petter Solberg. Now, in my build-up to Lydden Hill I had emailed the PR Manager of Petter Solberg cheekily asking for a quick interview with the champ himself, not expecting any kind of reply. Imagine my surprise when I got an email saying, “Yes, sure come after Q2 on Saturday.” – I looked inside the garage and there was Petter talking to his team. Now was not the time so I left the other fans taking photographs and wandered down the slope towards the dummy grid where they line up. Liam Doran’s car was already there, mechanics standing by the car with arms folded.

Opposite Paddock Bend and above the dummy grid area I saw the Monster Energy stage and decided to go up. They had the stunt cars lined up and I saw a two sets of steps leading up to the hospitality area with security guards. I just wandered up, a security guard jigging to the booming music being played. He smiled and ushered me inside and that’s when I saw the PS4 WRX game set up which my mate made a bee-line for. I wandered cautiously over to the Monster bar, not knowing if we were supposed to be here or not and ordered a Monster Lemon Rossi with the VR46 logo all over it in a yellow can. I stood looking out as the cars went hurtling round the track. The qualifying had started. This was a great vantage point so we decided to stay where we were. The stage was set high above the paddock and I had a great view of what was going on. During the interval, Terry Grand came out in his Monster sponsored cars, drove around the entire circuit on two wheels, performed drifts and set a Ford Sedan Legend up to go round in a circle on its own whilst he did the same in the opposite direction in his TVR. Very entertaining I must say. The drift cars came out and did their thing. I’m not a massive drift fan but it was very impressive and put on a great show.

This is when the start of what was a very entertaining day became surreal. I had already drunk two cans of Monster, I’m hyper enough anyway so imagine that included into the equation. This had the desired effect that I needed the gents. I explained to my mate that I was popping off to find one.

On the way I saw Kevin Hansen standing at his awning talking to someone. Feeling slightly brave I slowed my walk and casually, without looking too weird (I hope) looked at the car being worked on. The man he was talking to walked off and Kevin just shot me a glance. I took my opportunity.

“Kevin, I write for The Pit Crew Online, wondered if I could just ask you a couple of questions?” I asked, expecting a shake of the hand or just a polite no.
“Sure.”
In my head the reply was “What! Sorry? Did you just say sure?” – Think quick Simmo.
“Tough day today, how are you finding it out there?”
“It was hot and very tough. Hoping to deliver better.”
“What do you think of Lydden?”
“Great circuit, very quick.”

I nodded to the car and Kevin smiled as the mechanic worked on it, he shrugged his shoulders as if to say “No idea” and politely waved as he walked off.

I saw World RX Team Austria driver. Janis Baumanis, he had a huge fan base at Lydden, he smiled and I said:

“How’s the car?”
“Good.” He replied and smiled.

With those spontaneous Q&A’s done, I wandered off to the gents in the corner. On the way back I could see a large crowd gathering as cars were going out. I worked my through and as I reached the turning that would take me back to the Monster Energy stage I noticed it was cordoned off and fans were being stopped from moving across. I gazed around and noticed that I had a line of cars coming up behind me. RX Lites. All the people surrounding me wore FIA World Rallycross identification and I suddenly felt slightly out of place. I asked the marshal if I could duck through but she said I’d have to wait where I was for a moment. The people around me were FIA scrutineers and they were checking the cars. A young lad who was part of their team stood next to me. I looked at him and smiled uncomfortably, he smiled back and walked away from the man he was with to the front of the car. The grey haired man with the clipboard turned and said to me.

“Can you see that damage at the back?”
“Yes,” I replied nervously.
“Was that from Q1?”
“I have no idea.” I replied still feeling rather nervous.
“It’s not too much. I think it’s fine to race, what do you think?” He asked.
“I think if you reckon it’s fine then that’s good enough for me.” I replied not knowing what to do. The marshal was wetting herself. This was slightly awkward.

He waved the car on and his young assistant joined him. He gazed at the young man, realising he had not been speaking to his assistant and then looked back at me. I just smiled and suddenly felt very uncomfortable. The grey haired man laughed, tapped me on the shoulder and walked away. Phew! The cars filed through and eventually the marshal let me escape, still laughing.

I ran back to the Monster stage and told my mate who just laughed and shook his head. The surreal moments did not stop there.

This is where I bumped into an official Monster and WRX photographer, I didn’t get his name. We were on top of the Monster Energy tower watching the racing with an RX Lite driver who had been punted off the track wandering back onto the track after the race in front of the car who had smacked him to remonstrate with the driver. That was quite entertaining. The photographer explained that he had just come back from Rally Portugal. As we stood there just chatting about racing, it was getting chilly. He took off his very expensive camera equipment and placed them on the floor.

“Do you mind watching that whilst I grab a jersey?”
“Sorry.” I said, looking down at the thousands of pounds worth of equipment on the floor.
“If you could keep an eye on it for me, be back in a minute.”
“Er, yeah. Sure.”

Off he wandered leaving me, somebody he had never met, guarding his extremely expensive camera equipment.

“There’s probably a deposit worth of a house there you’re looking after.” My mate said, which made me feel a bit nervous.

Fortunately the cameraman wasn’t too long, I was so relieved. Wandering back through the paddock after Q2, as instructed by Petter Solberg’s PR, I noticed that he was in deep conversation. The option had been given for me to chat to him after the race on Sunday and I was beginning to think this was a good idea as the crowds gathered round his awning and I didn’t know what his PR man, named Per, looked like. Suddenly my mate nodded in the opposite direction and there was Marcus Gronholm standing with his World Rallycross driver son Niclas. I wandered over and as I got closer, Marcus got taller. He is huge! I noticed he was being very fan friendly and so I asked him if I could have my photo taken with him and his son Niclas.

“Sure.” We stood waiting for my mate to take the photo and he said “One hundred Euro’s a snap.” He laughed and that was the picture opportunity done. So not too bad, a BTCC driver, double World Rally champion and a WRX driver on my tick list.

Walked by the Hoonigan Garage and shook hands with Andreas Bakkerud. Name dropping all over the place. He had a huge fan club, all dressed up in their blue hoodies. They looked like they were having fun.

During the day we had walked the entire circuit, had a spot of lunch, saw a lot a grid girls, walked the paddocks and witnessed some epic racing we decided to go back to the Monster Energy tower.

I had decided to give up on the Petter Solberg for today and go and find him tomorrow after the final. We stood on top of the tower and my mate nudged me and pointed at the Quest TV crew who were setting up for an interview. I didn’t pay much attention and then one of the crew wandered over to us.

“Hi, guys. Sorry to be pain. Do you mind if we use your spot for a bit? We’re interviewing Petter Solberg.”

A rounding “No, we don’t mind at all,” was the response he received.

He chatted to us and I mentioned that I was supposed to be interviewing Petter today but he seemed a little busy.

“Well, why don’t you have him after we’re done.” Said the Quest crew member.

A few minutes later, Petter Solberg in full race uniform walked up with a couple of people and had his TV interview with Quest. My friend pointed at two men standing in front of me, an old guy with a notebook writing furiously and a young guy about my height with short blonde hair.

“One of those could be your man.” Said my friend who knew about the exchange of emails I had with Per, the PR man for Petter Solberg.

I checked both men. The older man seemed like a journalist and so I discounted him. I looked at the blonde haired man and took a deep breath.

“Excuse me. Are you Per?” I asked.
“Yes.” He replied.
“Neil, from the Pit Crew Online. We emailed each other.”
“Ah! Yes. Neil Simmons.” Per said smiling.
“I could see Petter was really busy earlier as he is now, so I may leave the interview until tomorrow.” I said politely.
“We can do it straight after this TV interview. No problem.” Per replied.

I felt my heart rate get a bit quicker. Petter was nearing the end of his interview and I was about to be faced by a double World Rallycross champion.

“Only if you’re sure?” I asked.
“Sure. No problem.”

We stood to one side and I had noticed earlier my phone had died so I persuaded my friend to use his voice recorder on the phone to record the interview. Per nodded to me and I wandered over with the Quest TV crew watching on with a gathering of journalists who had been waved away. I felt out of my depth and slightly nervous, but I took a deep breath. I knew I only had three questions, due to time constraints.

“Hello. Petter. The Pit Crew Online, I write for them. We follow your career and I’m doing a special feature.” Petter relaxed from the initial approach and nodded at me.

“How did you feel how today went?” I asked, knowing that he had blitzed everybody in qualifying.

“I feel good. We did a lot of hard work since the last race in Belgium, because the Audi’s have been a little bit faster. But now I think we are catching them back again.” He replied.

“But you like Lydden don’t you?” I asked and Petter smiled.

“Ah. Lydden is a fantastic track. I am looking forward to tomorrow. We are going to try to do some small adjustments to get the team in first place.” Petter replied.

“And who do you think will be your biggest challenger tomorrow. Ekstrom?” I asked.

“Yeah. Ekstrom.Yeah. Definitely.”

Petter Solberg smiled and I put my hand forward and we shook.

“Fantastic. Thank you, Petter.”

He was welcoming, cheery and had a very relaxed nature about him. I had been very nervous but straight from the off he relaxed me. If I had more time then I could have gone into a few more questions but I knew he was against the clock.

That was Day One at Lydden. Bizarre, surreal and I interviewed Petter Solberg. World Rallycross offers some fantastic racing, insane action and boy…do they know how to put on a show! Lydden as a circuit is just so nice. I loved it.

I came to Lydden Hill as a motor racing writer and a World Rallycross fan, I left falling even more in love with this series. If you have never been to WRX event I urge you to go. Honestly, you won’t regret it.

Neil Simmons

WRX Editor

Twitter: @world_racing

Photo Credits: Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

FIA World Rallycross – An Introduction

OVERVIEW

Rallycross is a combination of rallying and circuit racing. It is head-to-head short, sharping racing on mixed surfaces (dirt and asphalt) contained within amphitheatre venues. High profile drivers are equipped with RX Supercars with over 600bhp and the ability to accelerate from 0-60mph in less than two seconds – faster than an F1 car.

Rallycross was invented by Robert Reed, who was the producer on ITV’s World of Sport programme at the time. The first event took place at Lydden Hill on 4 February back in 1967, where it quickly became a staple of Saturday afternoon sports in the UK with both ITV and BBC broadcasting rallycross. The popularity of rallycross soon spread, with the first event on the European mainland taking place in Holland in 1969, with the Scandinavian rallycross debut taking place in Sweden two years later.

The FIA World Rallycross presented by Monster Energy was inaugurated in 2014 in Portugal after the FIA granted the World Championship status to the sport, becoming one of only five championships in that category.

TYRES

Cooper Tires is the official supplier of the FIA World Rallycross championship, as well as the FIA European Rallycross Championship in all 3 categories (Supercar, Super1600 and Touring Car). Each competitor is entitled to use 8 tyres of each compound (wet and dry tires) per championship weekend.

THE CARS

Supercar

Hot hatch/super mini turned into the ultimate racecars by the addition of turbocharged, two-litre, 600bhp engines and four-wheel drive. They accelerate from 0-60mph (100km/h) in 1.9 seconds – faster than an F1 car

Super1600

Front-wheel drive ‘hot hatches’ using 1600cc engines where many of the top Supercar drivers have developed from including Eriksson, Timerzyanov, Bakkerud and Nitiss.

Touring Car

Rear-wheel drive and two-litre engines. Cars produced with front-drive can be converted to rear-drive. 21st century interpretation of traditional rallycross cars also a development ground for Supercar drivers. Past champions like Larsson, Tohill, Marklund and Salsten have all progressed to the Supercar category.

RX Lites

Spec category for identical 310bhp, mid-engined, four-wheel drive racecars built by Olsbergs MSE. Guest support category at selected World RX events.

THE FORMAT

Each event is made up of an open practice sessions, four timed qualifying heats, two knock out Semi-Finals and one Final. There are four qualifying heats with a maximum of five cars starting abreast in each race over four laps.

QUALIFYING 1 (Q1). Starting positions in the races are determined by a draw that is carried out beforehand.

QUALIFYING 2-3-4 (Q2-Q3-Q4). Race starters determined according to timed classification of the previous qualifying heat.

Qualifying Classification is based on time of the driver, not the position within a race. The Top 12 drivers are then qualified for the Semi-Finals, with odds going to Semi-Final 1 and evens in Semi-Final 2. The top 3 of the two Semi-Finals progress to the Final, where the winner of the event is crowned.

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

Drivers score Championship points at three stages of the event.
The top 16 drivers after the four qualifying heats (Intermediate Classification) score points starting from 16 for the best placed, down to one point for 16th place.

The top 12 progress to two six car Semi-Finals in which points from six for the winner to one for sixth place are awarded. The top three from each Semi-Final then enter the Final.

Scoring for the Final is as follows:

1st: 8 points
2nd: 5 points
3rd: 4 points
4th: 3 points
5th: 2 points
6th: 1 point

Maximum score in an event is 30 points (16+6+8). All points scored in all 12 rounds count. The Team’s Championship will include all points scored by the two team drivers at all events.

That is your introduction to the FIA World Rallycross Championship. I will be bringing you news, reviews, reports and interviews from this exciting, chaotic and mind-blowing series of racing.

See You At The Chequered Flag

Neil Simmons

WRX Editor

Twitter: @world_racing

Photo Credits:

Logo – FIA World Rallycross and Monster Energy (c)

Photos – Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

F1 Drivers Stock Value

 

It is a phrase that is sometimes used in motor racing when teams or sponsors are weighing up their options on what particular driver or rider to sign for them. In fact, if you are a regular viewer of BT Sport and the MotoGP coverage then it is a phrase you will hear Neil Hodgson use quite often. The “Stock Value” of a racer.

We can all have opinions based on results and championships as to who the best performing racers are on the market, the current talk of Max Verstappen is a prime example. What I wanted to know was, if I was to gather all the figures and stats together from races and qualifying, add a few equations in such as their level of performance and the particular machinery they have at their disposal, what would their stock value be?

I sat down with somebody who loves their spreadsheets, formulas and mathematics and we set about compiling all the stats on the current Formula One drivers this season to see what their valuation was, no matter whether they had raced at one Grand Prix weekend or the entire season. The stats entered would then be calculated to find their “stock value”.

This is by no means intended to be 100% serious as we all know motor racing is about talent, wins and championships and the performance on the track, but the table below does make for interesting reading when you look at where certain drivers find themselves. Especially when you consider this is all about statistics and numbers. As the pundits say, a racers stock value will identify how good they are actually performing.

The interesting point I noticed when we were calculating stats is that using the formula we had was that Ricciardo, Rosberg and Vettel had a a better Qualifying stock value than Hamilton. At the other end of the scale, Wehrlein had a better Qualifying stock value than both Sauber drivers.

We took all the stats and all the performances. There is no set figure to compare it against but as an example if you took Mr Fictional Driver who won every Grand Prix so far, got every pole, every fastest lap and basically did everything right in the race and qualifying based on the formula we used, that stock value would be 50.36.

Here are your Formula One Drivers Stock Values.

Please don’t take it too seriously.

F1 DRIVERS STOCK VALUE

1. Stoffel Vandoorne – 29.40

2. Lewis Hamilton – 23.11

3. Nico Rosberg – 20.10

4. Daniel Ricciardo – 17.98

5. Sebastian Vettel – 14.25

6. Valtteri Bottas – 14.07

7. Romain Grosjean – 13.36

8. Kimi Raikkonen – 13.09

9. Max Verstappen – 13.01

10. Sergio Perez – 12.76

11. Kevin Magnussen – 11.31

12. Felipe Massa – 10.36

13. Fernando Alonso – 9.86

14. Esteban Ocon – 9.75

15. Carlos Sainz Jr. – 9.30

16. Daniil Kvyat – 9.05

17. Nico Hulkenberg – 8.57

18. Jenson Button – 7.86

19. Felipe Nasr – 7.17

20. Esteban Gutierrez – 6.29

21. Jolyon Palmer – 6.31

22. Marcus Ericsson – 5.96

23. Pascal Wehrlein – 4.26

24 – Rio Haryanto – 0.74

See You At The Chequered Flag

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Parc Fermé

Parc ferme after qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday 23 October 2010.

Neil Simmons

In the first of what will be my weekly Monday column, I look back at the weekend of racing and give my thoughts on what I witnessed.

Welcome to Parc Fermé.

I was fortunate enough to sit in the seat and perform live comms for The Pit Crew Online covering the 6 Hours of Mexico in the World Endurance Championship. The moody Mexican sky gathered menacingly above the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. The teams and fans alike gazed up, wondering when the weather would change. Audi looked cautiously to the track, wondering whether they could stop the Porsche onslaught. Porsche themselves, in control and leading the championship chase were confident. Toyota a distant ray of hope, possibly still reeling from the heartbreak of Le Mans. The ‘what ifs” and “what could have been” thoughts still swirling round their heads in the paddock, their mood as dark as the clouds that covered Mexico City.

How would the race unfold? What would the reaction of the fans be? How would this new chapter in the story play-out? Dramatically and with incident would be the answer.

As I mentioned in my article http://www.thepitcrewonline.net/#!From-Mexico-With-Love/cjds/57cbf54af97b694429bc4d35 this was a new race and it was unknown territory.

It just worked. Tremendously well.

Olly Jarvis losing control of his Audi, sent pirouetting across the track before slamming into the barrier. The team straight on the radio checking to see if he was hurt. He replied that all was well, be it sounding shaken and slightly emotional.

Lotterer, chasing hard, too hard. He locked up and clipped the barrier. That was the race for the win over. Today would be Porsche’s day, again. A Toyota side-swiping the LMP2 car of ESM, they were given a penalty and rightly so in my opinion. The Aston Martin of Dalla Lana face planting the barrier with the gentle assistance of Ford. Another penalty. The raging, tug of war battles across the field and the ongoing conflict between Audi and Porsche which resulted in both cars diving into the pits. Now it was a battle of the pit crews.

The forlorn sight of a Corvette, battered and stricken on the track with pieces of bodywork hanging off. The car was dented, the team wounded. The inter-changeable weather that refused to pay attention to Race Control. “We expect rain in fifteen minutes.” That was the message. It arrived in five. The weather, unlike the race, can’t be controlled.

Mexico produced a race of dramatic steel, but with charm. It was unknown, but it delivered and then some.

And that brings me to the next series I watched at the weekend. Formula One.

Monza. The Italian Grand Prix. Just those words conjure up images of passionate fans packed into this arena. The nostalgic allure of the old circuit, memories of days gone by. It should have been a celebration with fireworks, dancing girls and an Italian street party with loud pumping music.

Except it wasn’t.

It was more like a birthday party for Auntie Doris at the local village hall with bunting, paper hats, party poppers and cup of cocoa. It wasn’t the spectacle it was supposed to, or even deserved to be.

Rather than concentrate on the damp squid which was the race, I will as always try and pluck some positives from it.

Whether you are a Rosberg or Hamilton fan, there is no denying that Nico’s win was dominant and commanding. He controlled the lead he had and managed to put in a totally professional performance. He capitalised on Hamilton’s bad start.

I have seen the idiotic comments on social media from both Rosberg and Hamilton fans over the last couple of years and I saw a few more over the weekend. That’s just what they are. Idiotic.

Jenson, on the back of his news, looked feisty (as much as you can be in a McLaren at the moment). Then we have Fernando Alonso. After pitting towards the end he came out and showboated a fastest lap. Not only did this put a smile on the faces of McLaren fans, it actually proved that unharnessed and released from its shackles, the car is quick. It also reinforces the fact, if it had been forgotten, that Alonso is a fast driver given the right tools. Just needs to work on those mood swings of his.

I was playing catch-up. My recording box primed with times of races so detailed it was a like a master battleplan and I was the General.

Buckle up, it’s time for the mayhem, chaos and excitement that is Moto3.

Brad Binder extended his lead to 86 points in the Championship. He could possibly sit in the garage, put his feet up and have a cup of tea for the next couple of races if he wanted to. He won’t and nor should he. The likeable South African put in a great performance to win the Octo British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The Silverstone track was bumping the riders all over the place. The old lady is getting on a bit now and it’s starting to show.

Binder was assisted in putting one hand on the trophy after Jorge Navarro was unceremoniously ejected from his bike. At first it looked as though Andrea Migno had clipped him, but on the replay you see that it was actually the wildcard rider Stefano Manzi. Navarro and Migno came together after Manzi’s contact and they both went tumbling. Manzi, who had started on the second to last row of the grid, carried on and managed to put himself in fifth place at the chequered flag. The collision aside I think there might be a few teams looking at this young man.

Last season British fans were in the same position as South African fans. We look at our rider surging ahead in the points, putting in one sublime performance after another and yet there is still that nervousness of what if? If Binder gives South African fans the kind of end of season that Danny Kent gave us Brits you’re in for an edge of the seat finish. That said, I think Binder will be crowned Moto3 champion.

It was Moto2 next and it was time for Sam Lowes.

The battle for the title is on. Zarco, Rins and Lowes (though some might add Luthi to that now). It has been an epic tussle between the three of them and as Sam sat on the grid, pole position, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. Come on Sam!

The race went off at a furious pace and then Zarco started to come back. In a press conference before the race he had stated that he needed to stop Lowes. He stopped him alright, but it definitely wasn’t sporting. Lowes was catapulted by Zarco as the Frenchman barrelled his way through on the inside. I have no qualms whatsoever laying the blame of Sam Lowes crashing out at the door of Zarco. It was a reckless move from the defending champion and he kept his word. He stopped Lowes.

There is no taking it away from Thomas Luthi, who rode a fantastic race and has put himself back in the Championship hunt, now six points behind Lowes. We should have had a Brit on the podium in the Moto2 race at Silverstone, but it wasn’t to be.

The main race. The big one. MotoGP.

For the entire Silverstone weekend the pressure had been put on Cal Crutchlow. After a second place at the Sachsenring and winning the Czech Grand Prix, the fans were hoping for more. Ever since the birth of his daughter Cal has just looked and raced like a different man. He admitted feeling the pressure.

He delivered.

Cal Crutchlow. British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Pole Position. As I type that it gives me goosebumps.

Aside from Cal the spotlight was also on Scott Redding and the replacement for the injured Bradley Smith. A certain Alex Lowes had moved across from the Yamaha World Superbike Team to take the ride for Smith. His first ever MotoGP ride. With the obvious interest in Rossi (where isn’t there?) somebody forgot to tell Maverick Vinales that he didn’t have a lead role in this production.

The race however would have a scary start as Pol Espargaro and Loris Baz had a coming together at Turn 2. That’s around 180mph. Both their bikes went cartwheeling across the grass, the riders themselves bouncing around with the debris. The rest of the field sped round the corner and the riders went sliding across the track, bikes weaving to avoid them.

My heart was in my mouth. Red flag. Of course there had to be a red flag, though it did take a while to come out.

Thankfully both riders are fine.

The re-start. Vinales skipped by Rossi and Crutchlow and I sat and waited for the Yamaha and Honda rider to close down the gap on the Suzuki. I waited and waited. Nope. Maverick had cleared off into the distance and won the British Grand Prix by over three and a half seconds. Suzuki’s first dry weather win since 2001.

It was the battle behind which had the fans stomping, cheering and shouting. Cal Crutchlow was involved in an almighty battle with Iannone, Rossi and Marquez. Iannone decided to throw his bike at the scenery at Luffield and that left the Brit, the Italian and the feisty little Spaniard to go at it hammer at tongs…..and didn’t they just.

What pleased me the most was the hard, fair battle between Rossi and Marquez. None of those silly shenanigans we saw last season, no bad mouthing after the race. Just good, hard racing. Cal Crutchlow wasn’t ready to be bullied by Marquez either and stuck his Honda in second place ahead of both the factory bikes. He was using the chassis that the factory team had decided not to use. He did not disappoint the British fans in what was an epic race.

Cal Crutchlow on the podium at Silverstone. Smiling again.

It was full of incident and that brings me nicely to my conclusion.

I witnessed four absolutely brilliant races at the weekend in WEC, MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 and the yawn-fest affair in Formula One.

Now, don’t get me wrong I have been an F1 fan for over forty years now so I am not a hater, just disappointed that the sport which gave me the passion for motor racing as a child is…well…not as interesting as the other series I have watched this weekend….well actually the entire season.

Time to buck your ideas up F1, you are being out-gunned and out-played. Let’s hope this proposed buy-out injects some excitement, I say that more hopefully than with any conviction.

Here are my “Weekend Awards”:

STAND-OUT WEEKEND PERFORMANCE

Maverick Vinales

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND

“Look at Cal! Maybe I should go and make a baby.” – Valentino Rossi

AWKWARD MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND

Valtteri Bottas blanking David Coulthard on the Grid Walk…..twice.

PUT-DOWN OF THE WEEKEND

“When you have played a gig to 400-500 people, must be a bit difficult going home to impress the wife.” – Julian Ryder to James Toseland (married to singer Katie Melua)

See You At The Chequered Flag

Neil Simmons

@world_racing

Photo Credits:

(c) MotoGP, F1, WEC

Monza! Magnifico!

Ⓒ Neil Simmons

The city of Monza sits approximately nine miles to the north-east of Milan. The region was conquered by the Romans and Milan was declared the capital of the Western Roman Empire. It stood as a colossus against the rest of the world, even though there were some quarters who did not believe in the iconic value of this region. Armies came but it would take something special to break this fortress.

Similarities in these thoughts can be made with the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which now stands like that colossus, but no longer controlled by the Romans. This is a motor racing land now but it still has its enemies. Will the Monza empire crumble and fraction off into a new era? True Formula One fans, those who have grown with this beast of a circuit, stand like centurions, guarding the gates of this fortified, fuel injected dynasty. Surely this can’t be the end of one of the most iconic circuits in the world?

The red flag of Ferrari dominates the scenery as far as the eye can see, but the dominance is being tested by the growing barbarians that gather. The settlements of Mercedes and Red Bull gaze down at the Tifosi who vehemently stare back, their eyes stubbornly piercing with the Italian flair for all to see, waving arms and passionate cries. Ferrari will not secede and Monza will never surrender.

Nineteen victorious moments the red machine has cried in joy here in Northern Italy, they have been here before. The challenge of Auto Union and Alfa Romeo in the 1930s and 1940s, the Mercedes 1950s revolution. How did this proud army withstand the onslaught of Lotus (70s), McLaren (80s and 90s) and Williams (80s and 90s)? Because like Monza, they are proud.

The table at Monza is a stirring pot of passion and heroic ideology. At the head of the banquet sits the German conqueror Michael Schumacher with his glorious 5 wins in battle. Seated next to him a man who travelled across the Atlantic to tame the Monza beast four times during the eighties, Nelson Piquet. They sit proudly knowing that among all the challengers who ventured to Northern Italy, they are the best, the gladiators in this epic arena who tamed the beast and made it bow in defeat.

Before these two Monza greats are gathered are the men who tasted victory on three occasions. Tazio Nuolari looks on with Italian pride with his countryman Alberto Ascari. They were a decade (or just over) apart in their victories but they hold the legion flag as the Italians who have won the most times, defending their honour. Before Nelson Piquet, other warriors made the trek across the world to fight the Italian dragon; the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio who successfully tamed this track three times in the fifties. Another Brazilian master would see victory here as Rubens Barrichello marched on in 2002, 2004 and 2009. The Scandinavians were not going to be defeated by the Italian tarmac. Ronnie Peterson came and conquered Monza in the seventies, he remains the only driver from this part of Europe to do so. He sadly would also lose his life at this great circuit.

What about the proud British?

Stylish and with an air of arrogance, two men, sixty years apart have looked Monza in the eye and taken their mechanical sword and thrust it through the heart of Monza. Stirling Moss was triumphant here in 1956, 1957 and 1959 before Lewis Hamilton returned the British pride of treble wins in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Germans too would see victory again. Sebastian Vettel winning on three occasions but back then he was not driving a red car. His reception will be so much more different now.

Only two men can join Nelson Piquet at the head of the banquet, Vettel and Hamilton. The Tifosi will be hoping a German can bring Italian victory, whereas the Brits are pinning their arrogant hopes on Hamilton.

A gladiatorial arena of long straights, tight chicanes and the sweeping parabolica. An air of mechanical war is sweeping across Europe this evening. The Italians are ready for battle again, but will they see a twentieth victory? Will the Tifosi bellow with a passionate roar that will shake the stands where they sit and sway the trees that line the old track banked on the outside of the new. That same old track that witnessed the challengers from yesteryear arrive full of hopes and dreams with one goal in mind. To conquer the beast of Monza.

This is the place where Jochen Rindt lost his life, the only racing driver in Formula One to have won the world title posthumously.

For those who believe that this circuit should be consigned to the vaults of history with the memories of battle that it has served up in the past, think again. This old girl is not ready to give up her charms and she certainly will not go down without a fight.

Monza Magnifico. The beast returns this weekend. The empire shall not crumble.

Photo Credit to Neil Simmons

Neil Simmons

2nd September 2016

Q&A with Simon Dolan

Q&A with Simon Dolan

He left school at sixteen. He has gone on to become a very successful businessman. He has also carved out an adventurous career in motor racing. He’s a Le Mans LMP2 class winner in 2014 (finishing 5th overall), LMP2 class runner-up in 2015 (10th overall) and he took the time out to answer a few questions.

He is Simon Dolan and these are his Q&A’s.

LE MANS. You are entered in the LMP2 class with G-Drive Racing. Tell us about the car and the team/your team mates?

Our car is the trusty Gibson. Open top car which is by far the oldest in the field, but still stunningly competitive. I believe it is the most successful chassis in the history of LMP2. This year at Le Mans I will be driving with Giedo Van de Garde and Jake Dennis. Both very, very quick guys.

You’ve experienced Le Mans before. Apart from the race itself, what is the build up like to what basically is the greatest race in the world?

Long! We have to get there the week before the race starts. The build up week covers many different commitments such as scrutineering, driver briefings, meetings, autographs sessions etc, then testing begins on Wednesday afternoon. It’s a long week before the race has even begun.

How do you prepare yourself leading up to Le Mans?

We race in ELMS and the Spa round of WEC – nothing like racing to prepare for racing! On top of that obviously you are training hard and eating well.

Are there certain areas of the circuit you prefer more than others and if so which parts?

For me, Porsche Curves without doubt, the best bit of the track. Always a challenge.

Try and describe to a layman racing fan what it is actually like driving a car on the limit through the night? Even during the day you are on your own in the car, but at night it must be a very lonely experience?

Kind of like driving in a tunnel. parts of the circuit are quite well lit but when out on the public roads it is really, really dark, and the sensation of speed is much enhanced. First few laps at night really keep you focused.

How difficult is it to relax or even sleep when it is your turn out of the car?

Impossible really to sleep, but you rest. We stay in the driver cabins at the circuit and with noise cancelling headphones you can at least lie down and get some peace.

Can you describe the feeling driving at Le Mans as the sun rises. What sort of experience is that like?

It can be beautiful and uplifting. You see the air flow coming off the wings of the cars in front, it warms you up (not really but feels like it), and you have a sense of being on the home stretch.

How has your season been going?

Good so far in ELMS – leading the championship with a win and a 2nd in the two races we’ve done.

Fans are used to other series of racing where radio messages are common place. What’s the radio chatter like during a 24 Hour race and what’s the funniest/strangest radio message you have received?

It tends to be about relative pace, and warnings about LMP1 cars coming up behind. Pace can vary so widely at Le Mans that you have to have an idea of who is doing what around you. The closing speeds of P1 cars are so great that it is vital to know about them. During long safety cars I have heard songs being played down the radio to keep the driver awake!

When, you are flying along and then in your rears you get a face full of LMP1 roaring up behind you. Please explain what that is like and what goes through your mind. What is their approach speed like as you sit there waiting for the pass?

As above, you tend to know when they are coming and to be honest they are so fast past us (top speed 40kph more) that it is rarely a drama. It can get a bit interesting when you have two following in very close succession as in the mirrors they only look like one car. Tricky when you are going into a corner and they are both trying to get through.

In racing who would you say has been your toughest opponent?

No stand-outs really. The level is so high that you could probably choose at least half a dozen.

Imagine you are a team principal at Le Mans. Considering all-time drivers, which 3 drivers would you put in the car?

Same team as I have now!

You’ve worked with some great young talent. Describe what it’s like developing these youngsters and who has been the highlight of your guidance?

It is very gratifying to watch young guys come into their own, but make no mistake – we provide a great car and team environment but they are fast through their own efforts. Harry has to be the highlight.

How did you get into racing? What sparked that passion?

It all started with a track-day a few years ago.

What is the best advice you have been given in racing?

It’s not about having big balls, it’s about consistency and detail.

The brilliant film Journey To Le Mans documented you and the JOTA teams adventure to the great race. What was that experience like?

It was a fantastic experience to watch the film premiere in Leicester Square and see our whole season condensed into a couple of hours. Quite surreal really.

Who is the funniest person and/or your best friend in racing?

Too many to name. There are some great characters around!

I’ve heard you say in the film your teacher said you would amount to nothing. Yet, here you are, a successful businessman and racing driver. How much satisfaction does this give you?

I’d forgotten about that teacher a long, long time ago. It’s satisfying for sure to see what can be achieved if you put your mind to it and work intelligently.

What advice would you give to a young racer of today?

Learn to earn money first!

The day before the race. What is your routine? How do you spend your time?

Usually will be practice or quali, but I also do some relaxing and visualising and always will get an early night,

And finally….you have one word to describe Le Mans. What is it?

EPIC

Neil Simmons

20 Questions with…. ROB AUSTIN

 20 Questions with…. ROB AUSTIN


In this latest edition of my feature, “20 Questions With….” I returned to the British Touring Car arena to catch up with a driver who has competed in single-seaters and touring cars. He is famed for his approach to racing and his respect towards his fans. He also has a film credit to his name, technically a Hollywood star, appearing as Brett Lunger and driving a Surtees TS19 in the film “Rush”.

This week, it was a great pleasure to catch up with a BTCC cult hero and fans favourite, as I had….

“20 QUESTIONS WITH….ROB AUSTIN”

1. What is your favourite circuit?  
It’s a close call between Knockhill and Thruxton…any circuit where bravery pays off I love and they are generally the best spectacle for the fans as well.

 


2. Who was your motor racing idol?
Win Percy. I was lucky enough to have his guidance early in my career, awesome driver but above all a bloody decent bloke

 


3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent during your career?
That’s a tough one! I have raced against a few names, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Piquet Jr, Rosberg, to name a few, but I would have to say Adam Carroll. In different cars its tough to draw a direct comparison but Adam and I were team-mates and very evenly matched, we were mates but my God we wanted to beat each other. It probably worked out about even between us in the end.
 

4. Do you have a pre-race ritual/superstition and if so, what is it?
Not really superstition but I do have an order in which I prepare myself which I have to do the same every time. Right boot goes on first, right glove first etc.
 

5. Is there a race or series you have never competed in, but would like the opportunity to?
Well, having raced single-seaters, one make championships, Historics and GTs in the past, since switching to tin-tops and the BTCC I have realised I’ve been missing my calling all my career. I love close, hard, intense racing and you don’t get it in other formulas like you do in a touring car. Really, the only matches I see for the BTCC globally are NASCAR and Aussie V8s…I think I would have to say Aussie V8s are more my thing.


6. What is the best race you have been involved in? For what reason?
The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think. I’ve had some awesome races that haven’t resulted in race wins but involve great battles. However, there’s nothing like that feeling of victory even if it was a pretty straight forward race, so I’m saying Rockingham 2014.

 


7. Personal racing number. What is it and what is the meaning behind it?
It was always 6 for most of my career but I’ve never been that fussed about it and it’s changed quite a few times over the years.


8. What has been the best piece of racing advice given to you in your career?
I always remember being told about Alain Menu and how he was great at getting the whole team behind him and motivating them to go the extra mile to make the car perfect. I always remember thinking that was another skill to being a driver that most people don’t think about, but it’s so very important.
 

9. Who is the funniest and/or your best friend in racing?
I would have to say the guys on my car are both very funny and great friends to have, I’m lucky to have such good people around me.


10. Considering drivers over all-time, imagine you ran a racing team where money was no object, which two drivers would you have in your team?
Well, clearly I would pick myself as one of the drivers, I don’t trust anyone else, ha ha! But as my team-mate I would have to say Dan Welch just because we would have a lot fun.
 

11. For fans out there just coming to notice the fantastic world of BTCC, can you briefly explain what 2016 holds for you?
2016 represents a new era for me, I have taken all the best bits from my team and merged them with Handy Motorsport to create a sort of super team. We will finally be on a level playing field with the front runners and I cant wait to fight them without one hand being tied behind my back, as I often felt I was in the Audi. I think we can win races and challenge for the independents title…maybe more, but we will certainly exceed expectations.
 

12. How did the switch to Handy Motorsport come about, what prompted the change in focus this season?
We had reached the end of the line with the Audis, there was nothing more to come from them and they couldn’t be made competitive and as much as I love racing I do it to win, I’m not there to make up the numbers. I happened to have a chat with Simon [Belcher – Handy team principal] and I was inspired by his vision for the future and the commitment and passion he was putting in now to make his long term plans work. It was also something I felt I could really contribute to and be a part of rather than just a driver. It may only be a one year contract but we are all going into this looking much further down the road.
 

13. How did you get into motor racing, what ignited that spark to race?
My old man raced Renault 5’s and after years of pestering, when I was 10 years old he finally took me karting, it turned out I was pretty good at it so we carried on and it’s still me and my old man going racing together today.


14. Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your racing career?
There have been a few but it’s got to be Dad, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be lucky enough to get started and gain the education that has got me here today.


15. At the start of your career you raced in Formula 3, notably for Alain Menu’s team. How would you describe your experience in single-seater racing?
They were great cars to drive, the Dallara F3 chassis are so well developed they are beautiful to drive. But, in hindsight, the racing was relatively dull. As I said earlier in the interview, Tin Tops are where its at and if I had my career again I would’ve made the BTCC my target 20 years earlier.
 

16. Outside of racing, how do you relax? What are your hobbies or favourite other sports?
All sorts really. I like a pint, I do a lot of sports and training to stay in shape and squash is one of my favourites, but I enjoy running too and then, after all that exercise, I go for another pint!
 

17. If you could invite 4 famous people (past or present) for dinner and drinks, who would they be?
Cameron Diaz…just her, ha ha (don’t tell my wife!)
 

18. What was the last film you saw and what did you think?
I went to see London Has Fallen and it was terrible! The story line was so ridiculously far-fetched I was just getting annoyed. I’m more a Dodgeball kinda guy.
 

19. When it comes to music, who is your favourite band or artist?
Lots of artists really but generally older stuff. I’m really not a fan of modern music, I haven’t heard a new song that I liked in years. AC/DC, Dire Straits, Madness, Cream, Neil Young, Motorhead…I could go on.
 

20. And finally…..If you could give advice to anybody (in racing or in life), what would that piece of advice be?
There are two bits of advice that I live by. One is the great quote “quitters never win and winners never quit” which applies to motorsport well I think. The other applies to many other areas of life “when in a hole, stop digging”.


I would like to thank Rob for taking the time out to participate in this feature, I would also like to extend my thanks to Simon Belcher of Handy Motorsport and Marc Orme for making this interview possible. It is already shaping up to be a great BTCC season and with Rob Austin on the grid you just know there is always going to be fun and laughter.

I’d like to wish Rob and the Handy Motorsport team all the best for the forthcoming season.

Neil Simmons
8th March 2016

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