Autosport Awards - 1
The Autosport Awards last night (December 3) saw a galaxy of motorsport stars assemble at the Grosvenor Hotel in London’s Park Lane for the annual event.

With Carlos Reutemann, Martin Brundle, Derek Warwick, Damon Hill, Jean Alesi, Eddie Jordan and Murray Walker among the guests summoned on stage by host Steve Rider to present the various awards there was, perhaps inevitably, a rather F1 based flavour to proceedings, but there were plenty of very familiar faces from the sportscar racing world in evidence too.

While the video season reviews gave due credit to the achievements of Audi, Pescarolo, Corvette and Oliver Gavin (dsc’s host for the evening), RML, Team LNT and Scuderia Ecosse, the awards themselves were something of a single seater driver only zone, Tim Mullen failing to continue the line of success started by his 2005/6 Scuderia Ecosse team mate in securing the Club Driver of the Year (a title which went instead to Formula Renault man Sam Bird).

In the British Competition Driver of The Year Award, the talents of David Coulthard (whose 14 points, 13th in the F1 order for the season included a magnificent podium at Monaco, where he wore a fabulous ‘Superman cape’) were deemed more worthy of a nomination than either Allan McNish (ALMS Champion) or Oliver Gavin (ALMS and Le Mans 24 Hour GT1 Champion). Jenson Button took the award on the night but not before Coulthard had entirely botched the punchline to a joke intended as sage advice to young Lewis Hamilton, McLaren’s new driver for 2006, whose choice Coulthard had been reported as being publicly critical of.

The sole success for the sportscar world on the night was the ‘Pioneering and Innovation Award’, which quite correctly went to Audi for the achievements of the R10 TDI - a 100% winning record in its debut season, including both the 12 hours of Sebring and the Le Mans 24 hours. Allan McNish and Emanuele Pirro took to the stage with Dr Wolfgang Ullrich to accept the award, Dr Ullrich offering the opinion that the R10 programme had been “the greatest motorsport achievement so far from Audi. We took a big risk and who else other than Audi could have pulled it off?”

Teased into a prediction of where the programme goes next by Steve Rider, Dr Ullrich adopted the grin that is all too familiar to Audi’s opposition and said – “You are talking perhaps about a diesel in Formula One? – We haven’t started yet!”, leaving many in the room to wonder quietly whether this was a leg pull or a future prediction (dsc has it on VERY good authority that it was the former!).

The R10 however lost out in the Racing Car of the Year Award to the Renault R26, the Audi falling foul of the fact that it is apparently neither successful enough nor with sufficiently advanced technology – or something.

After the ceremony was completed Dr Ullrich, breaking a lengthy conversation with ALMS boss Scott Atherton, was unable to give any details on drivers, number of cars or series entries for Audi Sport, only confirming his wish that “we hope to announce details before Christmas”.

One piece of the sportscar rumour mill that can however be put to rest is the theory that Jean Alesi might form part of the Peugeot Sport line up for its attack on the Le Mans Series and the 24 hours itself.

“Le Mans is too long,” said the Frenchman from the stage, “I did it once in 1989 when I was much younger and didn’t really enjoy it and now, many years later I am not doing it for sure.”


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