Team Bentley Names British Formula One Driver Line-Up For 2003

Bentley Speed 8

Team Bentley is delighted to confirm the drivers who will crew the second Bentley Speed 8 at both Sebring and Le Mans in 2003. It’s a truly stellar line-up of Formula One talent with Britons Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell being joined by the Australian David Brabham. Between them they share 246 Grand Prix starts and while both Johnny and Mark are also previous Le Mans winners, David is one of just a handful of drivers who has proven able to compete successfully in the American Le Mans Series over the past four seasons.

It is unthinkable that Johnny needs any introduction at all to any racing fan. A veteran of 161 Grands Prix and winner of three, Johnny has been part of the fabric of global motorsport since he won his first Formula 3000 race back in 1988. That was also the year he had his horrific accident at Brands Hatch, which left people wondering whether he would ever walk, let alone race again. In the event Johnny made a miraculous recovery and went on to defy all those who said no racing driver ever reached the top after an accident like that. Still far from recovered, he made his Formula One debut for Benetton in Brazil the following year, coming home a superb fourth.

Even before that, it was clear that Johnny was going to be one of the superstars of the future. Like so many, Johnny started in karts before progressing to Formula Ford, winning the 1985 Formula Ford Festival and then becoming British Formula 3 champion in 1987. He progressed to F3000 in 1988 before his accident.

But despite such a promising F1 debut, it would take several seasons in uncompetitive machinery before Johnny’s star was allowed to shine again, this time in the toughest job in F1, as Michael Schumacher’s team-mate in 1995. Even so, Johnny still managed to claim his first and second Grand Prix wins that season, finishing fourth overall in the championship. A move to Sauber provided no more wins, but one more victory was to come at Stewart in 1999 at the European Grand Prix before a final season as part of the struggling Jaguar team in 2000.

In the light of such a record, it is often forgotten that Johnny is also a highly accomplished sportscar racer and former winner of Le Mans. In 1991, Johnny drove for Mazda at Le Mans, an unfancied team ranged against the might of the works Jaguars. But by putting in an heroic final triple stint despite food poisoning and a broken drinks bottle, Johnny held out long enough to provide Japan’s first ever win at Le Mans before being removed to hospital suffering from dehydration.

Most recently he has contested the 2002 ALMs series for Audi and came second at Le Mans for the marque and fourth overall in the championship.

continues... | Part Two

Published : 04/02/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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