One image of Jean-Francois Mosnier will always stick in my mind. It was April 1989, at Silverstone, the opening round of the European F3000 Championship. Mosnier’s Lola Motorsport team had suffered a torrid winter. Indeed, it was no longer the works Lola team, but that didn’t matter to Mosnier. The team was his, irrespective of its name, and the fact that Lola Motorsport had entered a pair of year-old Marches didn’t strike him as particularly odd. During qualifying, on Saturday, the team only had one car ready for its two drivers to share. It didn’t help when Enrico Bertaggia damaged it. As the remains were carted back to the pits, there was ‘Mos’, electric fret saw at the ready, leading by example as he hacked out a new floor for the stricken racer. Inspired by their leader’s frenetic enthusiasm, the team had the car ready in time for Mauro Martini to qualify it a somewhat remarkable, in the circumstances, 11th.
No amount of sustained determination can ever substitute for cash in motor racing, however, and that Silverstone meeting was to mark Lola Motorsport’s final F3000 event.
It had always been Jean’s desire to mould the team into an F1 outfit, and in recent years he had worked tirelessly to put that unrequited ambition to rights. Ironically, at the time of his death from cancer, on November 19 aged 46, he was on the verge of realising that particular dream. He was the motivating force behind the Escuderia Bravo F1 Espana project, launched in Adelaide during the Australian GP weekend.
It is bitterly ironic that this likeable, energetic Franco-Briton, who cut his teeth as an engineer with Cooper, Guy Ligier and Ford in the 1960s, and later enjoyed success in the tyre business with Firestone and IRTS, will not be around to see the fruits of his labours.
He is survived by Nicola and their three children Alexander, Florence and Scarlett. We extend our deepest sympathies to them and to Jean’s many friends in the sport at this sad time. We count ourselves amongst those who will miss his unfailing sense of optimism.
The death, on November 17, of journalistic colleague Howard Lees came as a great shock to everybody in the car and motorcycle industry. Howard succumbed to serious head injuries, sustained when the stunt ‘plane, in which he was a passenger, was forced to make a crash-landing. He was 35.
Howard made his name writing about ‘bikes, and he excelled as an endurance racer on two wheels. He was also an enthusiastic competitor on four, whenever he got the chance. A former staff writer on Autocar & Motor and Performance Car, he had more recently expended his energy as a prolific freelance, turning his hand to the technicalities of cars and ‘bikes with equal fluency.
A valued companion, we will miss the sense of fun and adventurous personality that nestled behind an often quiet and thoughtful exterior.
Our thoughts are with his wife Hilkka and their two sons Mikael, 6, and Patrick, 4.
•We extend our sympathy to the families and friends of former BTCC Mini racer Toni Pitcher who has died, aged 53, and Denis Flather, one of the founder members of the BTRDA, who passed away at his home in Sheffield recently, at the age of 81.
•Formula Ford racer Peter Brown has succumbed to a stroke, aged just 24. An enthusiastic regular at Brands Hatch, he most recently campaigned the latest Elden. Our condolences to his family and friends.