This is the time of year when championships are wound up, new cars are launched and prizes are awarded. As we went to press, the World Drivers’ Championship was still undecided and will not be resolved until after this issue is on sale. Whether or not Nigel Mansell secures the title, his performances have been good news for British motor racing at every level.
The November 1985 issue of Motor Sport carried reports of Mansell’s first two GP wins and this issue carries a report of his seventh victory. The interest this stream of success has generated in Britain has benefited everybody, from the enthusiast who has found that motor racing has been receiving unprecedented attention in the popular news media, to the driver seeking sponsorship. Win or lose in Adelaide, Mansell has been good for the sport in Britain.
Even if Mansell fails to secure the Championship, we already have World Champions. There’s Derek Bell who, with Hans Stuck his team mate in the works Rothmans Porsche team, has secured the World Sports Car Drivers’ Championship for the second successive year. Last year’s win could hardly be called a hollow one, but this year’s title, is surely the more satisfying result because there has been stronger opposition. Bell has been an outstanding ambassador for Britain and the sport and his second world title, though overshadowed in the popular media by Mansell’s performances, is richly deserved.
There’s applause, too, for the second successive championship secured by the Spice team, and drivers Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm in Group C2. The team has been consistently the most professional in a fiercely competitive category. It was a first class performance.
So too was that of Ecurie Ecosse which, at Fuji, took the Manufacturers’ Championship in Group C2. Ecurie Ecosse carved its place in motor racing history thirty years ago and then decline set in. Hugh McCaig and his team of enthusiasts have revived the name splendidly. Let us not forget, either, the immense contributions of Ray Mallock, who designed the car as well as being its regular driver, and Austin Rover which provided the engine.
Though Jaguar missed, by a single point, its chance to provide Derek Warwick with a title, its performance in the World Sports Car Championship has added zest to what had become a Porsche steam roller. More to the point, though, its new range of performance saloons has emerged as the star of the British Motor Show. The company has had a chequered career but has not only emerged from the past with all its traditional values intact, but looks like consolidating its position into the Nineties. Possibly the Jaguar can now set about providing us with a successor to the E Type. Please.
F3000, in its second year, has emerged as a good international formula, deserving of its nominal status as being second only to F1. It has had full grids, close racing and, in Ivan Capelli, a worthy champion.
Formula Three in Britain has seen the dominance of Andy Wallace and his Madgwick Motorsport Reynard. Wallace is a driver in the Mansell mould and we hope he may progress to the limits of his ability. Unfortunately, this is by no means guaranteed in the present climate. Though Wallace was not initially selected for backing by the Warmastyle Racing for Britain scheme, he might not have completed his season without its help. Racing for Britain has already assisted Jonathan Palmer and Martin Brundle on to F1 grids, and it may do the same for Wallace and the other young drivers it nurtures. Alas, most enthusiasts do not want to see this happen.
The hard truth is there are little more than a thousand enthusiasts prepared to put up a £10 pa contribution, which amounts to less than a pint of beer a month, in order to assist British talent. With so few subscribing we can only conclude that more enthusiasts do not care.
Finally, there must be congratulations to the Benetton team on achieving its first Grand Prix victory. At the end of the Mexican Grand Prix, Luciano Benetton insisted that the British national anthem be played instead of the Italian. This gracious gesture was in recognition of the fact that he owns a British-based team which, of course, used to be Toleman. In congratulating Benetton, let us not forget Ted Toleman and Alex Hawkridge who created their F1 team in 1981 and who put it onto the road to success after weathering a difficult first season which saw only a single car qualify in just two races.