MAR 28th 2016

That Was The Week That Was – Anniversaries And Milestones From Motorsport's Past

March 28

1942: French rally legend Bernard Darniche was born. He won seven World Championship events for Renault-Alpine, Lancia and Fiat between 1973 and 1981 and competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours on several occasions, taking a best finish of fifth in a Rondeau with Jean Ragnotti in 1979.

1952: British racing sensation Tony Brise was born. The 1973 British Formula 3 Champion graduated to Formula 1 in 1975 with Williams. After one race with Frank’s team he joined Graham Hill’s eponymous squad and made a big impression in his nine races. When he was killed in the same plane crash as the great double World Champion and four other members of the team in November that year, F1 was robbed of a great talent and future star.

1976: The California streets of Long Beach played host to Formula 1 for the first time. Ferrari’s Clay Regazzoni completed a clean sweep for Ferrari, taking pole, victory over team-mate Niki Lauda and fastest lap.

1993: McLaren took its 100th World Championship Grand Prix win, courtesy of Ayrton Senna in Brazil. The home hero defeated the Williams of first-time podium visitor Damon Hill.

March 29

1923: 1950s British motorcycling legend Geoff Duke was born. He won two 350cc titles for Norton and three 500cc crowns for Gilera. He died, aged 92, in May 2015.

1981: Carlos Reutemann won the Brazilian Grand Prix for Williams at Jacarepagua, heading team-mate and reigning World Champion Alan Jones. But the real reason this GP gets onto most fans’ quiz-question lists is that Marc Surer finished fourth for the tiny Ensign team – and recorded its first and only fastest lap.

1987: Raul Boesel and Eddie Cheever won the Jerez 1000km, round two of the World Sports-Prototype Championship, for Jaguar. Their TWR-run XJR-8 beat the Kremer Porsche 962C of Kris Nissen and Volker Weidler and the factory example of Derek Bell and Hans-Joachim Stück.

2009: Jenson Button and Brawn got their World Championship campaign off to the perfect start by converting pole position into victory in the season-opening Australian GP. The second BGP 001 of Rubens Barrichello made it a debut one-two for the team born out of the defunct Honda operation.

March 30

1974: Carlos Reutemann broke his Formula 1 duck with victory for Brabham in the South Africa Grand Prix at Kyalami. Ferrari’s Niki Lauda had taken his first pole position, but failed to finish. The race also marked the first appearance of the Hesketh team. James Hunt retired the Cosworth DFV-powered 308 on lap 13 with transmission trouble.

1961: Mike Thackwell, one of racing’s most enigmatic characters, was born. The Kiwi only raced in two Grands Prix – for Tyrrell in Canada in 1980 and again in Montreal for RAM in ’84. That same season he had won the last European F2 title in the works Ralt and went on to win three races and finish runner-up in F3000, the replacement for F2, in ’85. He also won the 1986 Nürburgring 1000km in a Sauber-Mercedes alongside four-time Le Mans winner Henri Pescarolo.

1980: Nelson Piquet scored his first Grand Prix win, for Brabham at Long Beach in the US GP West. The race was marred by the accident that befell veteran Swiss Clay Regazzoni. The Swiss was paralysed after crashing his Ensign into the abandoned Brabham of Piquet’s team-mate Ricardo Zunino at the end of Shoreline Drive.

March 31

1958: British Formula Ford legend Dave Coyne was born. The veteran FF1600 ace returned to the category after several years in F3 and finally won its blue-riband event, the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, in 1990. He competed in single-seaters and sportscars into the mid-1990s and has recently made a return to racing in historic circles.

1975: Swede Ove Andersson recorded his only WRC win thanks to victory in the gruelling Safari Rally. Co-driven by countryman Arne Hertz, who went on to great success with Hannu Mikkola, Andersson guided his Peugeot 504 to victory over the Lancia Stratos HFs of Sandro Munari and Björn Waldegaard.

April 1

1967: Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren won the Sebring 12 Hours in a factory Ford MkIV. Their 7-litre V8 machine beat the Mk2B of A.J Foyt and ’66 winner Lloyd Ruby by a comfortable 12 laps.

1991: Lancia scored its third and final Safari Rally victory, courtesy of World Champion Juha Kankkunen. The Finn’s Delta HF Integrale beat the Toyota Celica of Mikael Ericsson by 26 minutes to add to Italian Miki Biasion’s two African wins for Lancia in 1988 and ’89.

2001: History was made during the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend when Michael and Ralf Schumacher became the first brothers to lock out the front row of the grid. In the race, Michael’s Ferrari had to give second best to David Coulthard’s McLaren, while Williams driver Ralf spun out on lap 54 of 71.

April 2

1926: Formula 1 god Sir Jack Brabham was born. The Australian won two titles for Cooper in 1959 and ’60 and a third in a car of his own making in 1966 – a unique achievement in F1. He died, aged 88, in May 14. 

1940: ‘Mike the Bike’ Hailwood was born. The seven-time World Motorcycle Champion, 14-time Isle of Man TT winner, F1 Grand Prix podium finisher and World Sportscar Championship race winner died, aged just 40, in a road accident in March 1981. How everyone who enjoys Goodwood’s three events would’ve loved to see the great man back in the saddle or behind the wheel at the Festival of Speed or at the Motor Circuit.

1953: British Touring Car star Will Hoy was born. He won the title in 1991, the first year of the one-class formula, in a BMW M3 and also racked up victories for Toyota, Renault and Ford. Hoy died from cancer, aged 49, in December 2002.

1959: Flying Finn Juha Kankkunen was born. He was the first driver to win four WRC drivers’ titles – in 1986 (Peugeot), 1987 and 1991 (Lancia) and 1993 (Toyota) – and amassed 23 career wins at the top level.

April 3

1972: Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm became the first non-local crew to win the East African Safari Rally in the event’s 29-year history, taking victory in a Ford Escort Mk1 from the Porsche 911S of Polish crew Zasada Sobieslaw and Bien Marian. 

1967: Australian touring car hero Mark Skaife was born. ‘Skaifey’ won the Bathurst 1000 on six occasions – twice for Nissan and four times for Holden – and was crowned series champion five times.

1985: Volkswagen WRC ace Jari-Matti Latvala was born. The Finn has won 16 events to date, for Ford and VW, including the recent Rally Mexico WRC qualifier in the Polo R WRC.

1988: The opening round of the F1 season in Brazil marked the start of the McLaren steamroller. The remarkable, Honda-powered MP4-4 took the first of what would be 15 wins – from 16 races – that year, thanks to Alain Prost. The Frenchman had an easier run to victory after his new team-mate Ayrton Senna, who’d qualified on pole, was disqualified for changing cars after a waved green flag had signalled the start of the parade lap.

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