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
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.
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.”