Matters of Moment, February 1993

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Asset Gripping

The entire future of the French motor racing is uncertain, in the wake of the enforced withdrawal of tobacco companies’ support. Even with the government’s promise of a compensation fund valued at over £50M, it’s an uneasy time for the industry. In Spain, what has been a flourishing sport for the past two to three years is reeling from the loss of Marlboro support for the Racing for Spain scheme which was actively promoting the cause of young Spanish drivers. With considerable success, it must be said. Germany’s pride and joy, the national touring car series, is in tatters. Even if, as expected, a couple of factory-supported BMWs eventually compete, that still leaves only Mercedes-Benz and Alfa Romeo fully committed. In Italy, the national F3 championship, which annually promotes a handful of talented youngsters into F3000, is racked by arguments, following the decision by the country’s governing body to exclude drivers over a certain age. With the collapse of the proposed national F2/F3000 series, many of the country’s lesser sponsored twenty-somethings have nowhere to go.

Happily, the position in Britain is rather healthier. What you are about to read is not an outbreak of patronising jingoism. Rather, it’s a plea to everyone within the sport in this country to appreciate what we’ve got, and to make the most of it. In the light of the opening paragraph, consider the following facts: at a time when there are fewer and fewer Fl seats to be distributed between an ever-increasing number of aspirants, British drivers occupy five of them; the Mansell factor has promoted a hitherto unknown fascination in the excellent IndyCar series, particularly in the tabloid media; there is increasing interest in the UK in the European F3000 series, despite the present uncertainty over its future format; there are moves afoot to introduce a decent prize fund and promotional package to the national F2 series; F3 looks buoyant, with three extra chassis manufacturers already committed, and discussions taking place to evaluate how best to enhance the formula’s image; the British Touring Car Championship was a huge success in 1992, and there is no sign of its appeal waning, with Ford and Renault having joined existing supporters Vauxhall, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Mazda and Peugeot; Colin McRae has the best chance of success of any British driver ever to have been recruited for a serious World Rally Championship programme; after a lacklustre 1992, national rallying looks set to pick up, with works interest from Ford, Subaru and Vauxhall, and a healthy crop of young drivers eager to follow the trail blazed by McRae; by mid-January, the British Open Formula Ford Championship had a stack of guaranteed entries, including a quartet of national champions from abroad…

The recent economic depression has by and large left Britain’s motor racing infrastructure intact, and the sport looks set for a bumper year at all levels. Now is the time for everyone to lend it their support, to ensure that the present momentum isn’t lost.