Scot missed out
Your Top 20 Tin-Top Drivers feature In the February edition will no doubt provoke much debate.
I am surprised that Tom Walkinshaw was omitted. From 1982 to '86 he was arguably the fastest ETCC driver of them all. Champion in '84, he would have won the title in '83 too but for a faulty bonnet-retaining clip at the Monza opener. He won 20 races, at a time when the ETCC was massively competitive. Let's not forget his numerous pole positions too, including five consecutive top spots at the Spa 24 Hours. He and Win Percy (I'd have thought Tolpuddle's finest would get a mention too) were walking away with the 1985 James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst until the Jag starting losing oil. Has anyone seen the footage of Walkinshaw on two wheels at McPhillamy during the pole position shoot-out, by the way?
Yes. Walkinshaw was the boss and there's no doubt that a few more sticky tyres or rpm will have come his way, but he was consistently the fastest driver in a Jag or Rover. Let's not forget that Hahne, Percy, Soper, Brundle and Schlesser were all TWR drivers at this time, further underlining Walkinshaw's ability. And these cars, especially the XJS, were not easy to drive on the limit, yet Walkinshaw always pushed to the boundaries of performance no matter what the circumstances, and was thus amazing to watch. Witness his (ultimately fruitless) chase of the Eggenberger 635 at the 1984 TT down to 10 cylinders, but bouncing over the kerbs at Woodcote Chicane as if the salvation of mankind depended on it!
I do hope this letter will be published as it refers the readers back to an era that has been overlooked in your piece: the pre-Sierra RS500/BMW M3 days. There was so much more variety: regular appearances of grand prix drivers and the snarl of a Coventry V12 pulling hard up the Kemmel Straight with a Scotsman's right foot buried.
A big thank-you for your many letters on this subject. You're right to suggest that there was a British bias among our jury but that's to be expected. No doubt if Motorsport Aktuel ran a similar poll, Stuck or Ludwig would be 1st, Soper 15th -- Ed
Fact File: Motor Sport tin-top list -- next best:
Seventy-seven drivers received votes. Here are those who just missed out on a Top 20 slot:
22 Ronnie Peterson, John Whitmore
24 Norm Beechey, Dick Johnson, John Rhodes, Tom Walkinshaw
28 John Fitzpatrick, Alan Moffat
30 Colin Bond, Win Percy, Ian "Pete" Geoghegan
32 Gordon Spice
33 Jim Richards
34 James Thompson
35 Dave Brodie