McLaren-Mercedes were rocked by the death of Ilmor Engineering managing director Paul Morgan in a flying accident during the weekend of the Austrian GP.
Morgan grew up with machinery; his father ran an automotive products company and restored veteran cars. After completing an engineering degree, Paul joined Cosworth in 1970, where he oversaw the development of the DFX lndycar engine. In 1983, he and fellow employee Mario Illien decided to go their own way, and Ilmor was born in Brixworth, the town where Paul grew up. Although they started with nothing, early backing from Roger Penske enabled them to get their own Indy engine project up and running. The American racing guru later introduced Chevrolet support, and the GM-badged V8 scored its first victory in 1987, and went on to win 86 races.
Ilmor moved into F1 with Leyton House in 1991, and two years later a Mercedes connection was established with Sauber.
That blossomed into fullyfledged support from the Stuttgart manufacturer and, after Chevrolet pulled out, Mercedes took the naming rights of Ilmor’s CART engine, and the success continued. Mercedes joined forces with McLaren in 1995 and, after a difficult start, the partnership earned world titles for Mika
Hakkinen in 1998 and ’99, and the constructors’ title in ’98.
Morgan kept a low profile and was rarely seen at GPs. He ran the manufacturing side of Ilmor, turning Illien’s designs into reality. His loss will be keenly felt by McLaren.
He was 52, and is survived by wife Liz and children Lucy and Patrick.