My first race

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Cooper T72. Goodwood. 1964 by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud

Jim Russell opened a school at Magny-Cours, and I won a Cooper-BMC F3 car. I had to collect this car from England and said to John Cooper I would like to do a race so I could get to know it. He said, ‘There’s one at Goodwood; you can race it there.’

I got an entry and I wasn’t bad: fifth in practice. Jackie Stewart was on pole. I wanted to make a very good start, and I put my car a metre behind the white line. Tony Brooks was waving the start flag and I was the only one moving gently forwards — I thought he couldn’t see me — but when I got to the white line I had to stop. That’s when he put the flag down, and I was the only one left on the grid!

It took a long time to start the engine again, and I was the last one to arrive at the first corner. But it was a very good race and I eventually finished eighth. The public were very impressed, because the commentator only spoke about Jackie and me! I liked the car very much, but I crashed it in Monaco during my fourth race so it was finished. It took me three months to get a new car!

…and my last race

Paris-Cape Town Rally, 1992

My last real races were with a private Sauber in the ’87 World Sportscar series, although I did Porsche 944 Cup races in France until ’89. By then I was concentrating on the Paris-Dakar: I did it eight times. I stopped competing only because of money, otherwise I would still be driving it: the costs have gone up so much. AC