British Engineer In Fast Lane Stateside With Grand Prix Ace Herbert

A Warwick man who emigrated to America two years ago has put former Grand Prix ace Johnny Herbert back in the fast lane. Leamington Spa-born Marcus Haselgrove (29) works on the 220mph Audi R8 sportscar that Herbert drives for the Florida-based ADT Champion Audi Racing team.

Haselgrove, a former Mid-Warwicks College and Loughborough University student who lived in Hampton Magna, now resides in Fort Lauderdale.

"I gained a degree in Engineering at Loughborough before starting a Masters course at Coventry University," confirmed Marcus whose parents Pam Dash and John Haselgrove still live in Warwick.

"I almost missed my interview with Champion," remembers Marcus. "I boarded a plane in Los Angeles for Miami but the plane suddenly aborted its take-off and came to a sudden standstill - the flight deck had just been informed of the terrible havoc in New York – it was September 11 last year."

Haselgrove is Herbert’s race engineer in the American Le Mans Series, a 10-race sportscar endurance championship which German car manufacturer Audi has dominated. Audi has won the Le Mans 24 Hour motor race for the past three years and features a gearbox designed and developed by Leamington-based Ricardo.

Marcus added: "I was a little nervous about working with Johnny. We teamed up in May and after practice all of the team had a debrief and I remember afterwards thinking to myself, ‘I’ve just told Johnny Herbert what he is doing wrong!’

"I’m very happy - America places a greater value on engineers than in the UK. The Champion Audi team is also very close, everyone works hard but also plays hard. If we are not working many of us jet-ski and wakeboard together.

"With the technology we enjoy nowadays, communicating with family and friends back home is not a problem and I also help out the Mid Warwickshire College’s Engineering Department from time-to-time despite being 3,000 miles away."

Herbert, who competed in Formula One for 12 years scoring three victories, lies third in the American Le Mans Series with just three races remaining. The next race for Haselgrove and Herbert is at Laguna Seca near Monterey in California on 22 September.

Herbert commented: "I finished second in the corresponding race at Laguna last year, under two seconds behind the winning Audi after 120 laps despite a 20-seconds time penalty. This will be my second race at Laguna and I love the track while Audi has won there for the past two years. Having finished fifth, third and second in the last three ALMS races, I’m hoping to record that so far elusive maiden ALMS win."

Marcus concluded: "Hopefully we can finish the year off in style with a couple of wins in a car that has transformed sportscar racing over the past three years!"

Published : 13/09/02 Author : Melanie Carter

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