Geoff Lees

Born:
1st May 1951 (Age 68)
Atherstone, Warwickshire
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

His Formula 1 career never really started but Geoff Lees is the only man to have won Formula 2 titles in both Europe and Japan. His was a successful 30-year career in single-seaters and sports cars although his talent was ultimately unfulfilled at the very highest level.

Early racing career

Interested in cars from an early age, his passion was flamed when helping a neighbour work on a racing Lotus Seven. Lees left school at 15 to train as a mechanic and he embarked on a Jim Russell Racing School course a year later.

He raced a Lotus 23 sports car briefly before switching to Formula Ford in 1971. Limited sponsorship hampered early progress before Lees and his Royale RP21 scored an impressive clean-sweep of the British FF1600 Championships and the Formula Ford Festival in 1975.

Stuttering Formula 1 career

Third in both 1976 British Formula 3 series with a Chevron B34-Toyota, he started 1978 in the new British F1 Championship with Mario Deliotti’s Ensign N175-Ford. He won at Mallory Park but was unsuccessful in his attempt to qualify the car for the British Grand Prix. His world championship career was a stop-start affair and five starts (from 12 attempts) were for five different marques in five years and did not reflect his talents.

Lees made his GP debut by replacing Jean-Pierre Jarier for the 1979 German GP when his Tyrrell 009-Ford finished in a career-best seventh position. Lees was hired by the hopeless Shadow team for five events in 1980 and that he qualified in South Africa was remarkable. His Theodore TY02-Ford was eliminated at the start of the 1982 Canadian GP and he was a distant 12th for Lotus in France that year when deputising for the injured Nigel Mansell.

Double Formula 2 Champion and Japanese career

Forever frustrated in F1, Lees built a reputation in F2 and won the 1981 European title with a Ralt RH6-Honda. He moved to the Japanese series with Tetsu Ikuzawa’s team and defeated local star Satoru Nakajima in the 1983 F2 championship when driving both Spirit 201- and March 832-Hondas.

That was the start of a successful career in Japan during which he was All-Japan Grand Champion in 1987, 1988 and 1989. He also enjoyed success in sports cars – especially with Toyota. He scored the maiden World Sportscar Championship race win for the marque in the 1992 Trofeo Filippo Caracciolo at Monza. Co-driver Hitoshi Ogawa inherited victory that day when Yannick Dalmas’ Peugeot 905B crashed two laps from the finish.

Victory at Le Mans proved elusive however. He came closest in 1998 when leading with 80 minutes to go only for his Toyota GT-One gearbox to fail. Lees won that year’s European GT title with a GTC McLaren and retired from racing in 2000.

Talented but forever under-funded while establishing himself – Lees was a consummate and much respected professional thereafter.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1998 FIA GT Championship 21st 4
1998 GTR Euroseries
Davidoff Classic
1 1 1 1 1st 0
1997 FIA GT Championship 29th 2
1992 World Sportscar Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
6 0 4 1 5th 59
1991 World Sportscar Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
1 0 0 0 0
1990 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
8 (1) 1 0 0 26th 3
1989 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
4 1 0 0 25th 17
1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
2 0 0 0 0
1987 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
2 0 0 0 0
1987 World Touring Car Championship
TOM's Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
2 0 0 0 70th 2
1985 World Endurance Championship
Dome Toyota
2 0 0 0 0
1984 World Endurance Championship 0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1983 All-Japan F2 Championship 1st -
1983 World Endurance Championship 0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1982 World Endurance Championship
Nimrod Racing Automobiles
3 0 0 0 0
1982 F1 World Championship
Theodore Racing Team
John Player Team Lotus
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1981 European F2 Championship
Ralt Racing
12 1 6 3
25% win rate
1st 51
1980 F1 World Championship
Unipart Racing Team
Theodore Shadow
RAM Racing Team
Shadow Cars
2 (6) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1980 European F2 Championship
Ralt Cars
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1980 Aurora AFX British F1 Championship
Theodore Racing Hong Kong
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1979 F1 World Championship
Candy Team Tyrrell
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1979 Aurora AFX British F1 Championship
Theodore Racing Hong Kong
1 0 1 0
0% win rate
14th 4
1978 F1 World Championship
Mario Deliotti Racing
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1978 European F2 Championship
Raven Racing
Polifac BMW Junior Team
4 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 4
1978 Aurora AFX British F1 Championship
Mario Deliotti Racing
Team March
John C Cooper
7 0 3 1
15% win rate
5th 69
1977 European F3 Championship
Chevron Racing Team
1 0 1 0
0% win rate
16th 4
1976 European F3 Championship
Rob Roy Racing with DJ Bond
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
21st 1