x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

High-octane heroism

Feature Matt Majendie recalls 10 incredible moments of courage by those who will be taking part at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

A pit lane board signals Mick Doohan has crashed out of the 1992 Dutch Grand Prix. He was hours away from losing his leg to gangrene.
A pit lane board signals Mick Doohan has crashed out of the 1992 Dutch Grand Prix. He was hours away from losing his leg to gangrene.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed, which began in England yesterday, is marking the achievements of those who have battled adversity with its 'True Grit - Epic Feats of Endurance' theme. Matt Majendie recalls 10 incredible moments of courage by those who will be attending the festival. Mick Doohan Doohan is the poster boy of this year's True Grit celebrations. Doohan had been dominating the 1992 500cc World Championship when he crashed in practice for the Dutch Grand Prix and broke his right leg. He was just hours away from having his leg amputated after gangrene set in, but the championship's official doctor interceded by taking blood from his other leg and sowing up the wound. Many thought Doohan would never ride again. Despite having barely any use of his leg, he returned to the that year's championship and rode at the final two races. In pain and clearly struggling to use the rear brake, he was 12th in Brazil and a remarkable sixth in South Africa. His heroics very nearly won him the world title - he finished second just four points behind champion Wayne Rainey. He later made amends with five back-to-back world titles.

What he'll be driving at Goodwood: A Repsol-liveried Honda CBR1000RR Sir Jackie Stewart The 1968 German Grand Prix was arguably the finest drive of Stewart's illustrious racing career. But it was a race that very nearly didn't happen - organisers toyed with cancelling it because of a combination of thick fog and high winds. The Scot himself was an uncertain starter after breaking his wrist. When the race began, Stewart climbed up to third after a woeful start by polesitter Jacky Ickx. And before the end of lap one of the Nürgburgring - a circuit that renowned for its lack of overtaking opportunities - Stewart had passed the two men in front of him, Chris Amon and Graham Hill. No one got close to him after that and Stewart produced one of the most masterful drives in F1 history in truly horrific conditions. He later recalled his tension at steering his car safely around 2,436 corners during the race to win by a whopping four minutes.

What he'll be driving at Goodwood: Matra MS10 and Tyrrell 002 Sir Stirling Moss There are no shortage of heroic drives involving Moss, but arguably one of his finest came, not in F1, but in the prestigious Mille Miglia race in 1955. It was a race that had previously been dominated by Italians, the home advantage meaning they made light work of the 1,000km route. However, Moss threw everything at being the first British winner, recceing the route with co-driver Denis Jenkinson, a journalist with little experience of life in the co-pilot's seat. Driving the Mercedes-Benz 300SLR, in the end, he and Jenkinson crossed the line a little over ten hours after they had started. Even more remarkably, Juan Manuel Fangio, generally regarded as the world's finest driver at the time, was second but nearly half an hour behind the pair.

What he'll be driving at Goodwood: Vanwell and Mercedes-Benz W196 Jacky Ickx To this day, the Belgian claims to feel lucky to be alive after a horrific accident at the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix at the Jarama circuit. On the opening lap of the race, he crashed out and his car burst into flames. For 20 seconds, he battled to force his way out of the burning wreckage of his Ferrari 312B and suffered horrific burns. But Ickx returned to the Ferrari cockpit 17 days later at the Monaco Grand Prix having not missed a single race. Still struggling from his painful injuries, he romped to three more race wins that season - in Austria, Canada and Mexico - to finish runner-up in the championship to Jochen Rindt, who had died in practice before the Italian Grand Prix.

What he'll be driving: Auto Union Type C Grand Prix car Jacques Laffite Laffite may not have quite have managed to make it to the top spot in the world championship but the six-time race winner was one of the star names of Formula One in his heyday. However, his long F1 career came to an abrupt halt in 1986 when he crashed in his Equipe Ligier car. The race started with a multi-car pile-up involving Laffite, Christian Danner, Piercarlo Ghinzani and Allen Berg. Laffite broke both his legs in the accident and brought an end to his F1 career, curtailing his chances of taking the outright record for grand prix starts - the British GP had seen him level with Graham Hill on 176 starts. But the severity of injuries did not prevent Laffite's return to race action in touring cars. His racing passion continues to this day and just last year he got behind the wheel of an F1 car, driving a Renault R27 F1 car at the Paul Ricard circuit.

What he'll be driving: Morgan Aero 8 GTN Richard Attwood Attwood makes the list without a major crash to really talk of and the Briton became one of the more famous names in the annals of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The car he was given for the 1969 race became iconic - the Porsche 917 - which made everything else that had preceded it look sluggish in comparison. Attwood recalled: "That year we were doing 235mph: nothing had ever been at Le Mans like that - it was totally ridiculous. Above 200-and-something, the 917 was off the ground, quite literally. It was terrifying." It was a miracle that neither Attwood nor co-driver Vic Alford came to any damage in what was Porsche's first Le Mans foray. They eventually retired with gearbox failure. He returned to the Circuit de Sarthe a year later and duly won the race.

What he'll be driving: Mini Cooper S Michael Dunlop Dunlop will be riding a Norton NRV588 on the hill this weekend. While his achievement is not exactly one of endurance, he makes the list for his true grit in the wake of a massive family tragedy. Dunlop produced a scintillating performance for victory at the North West 200. Only two days earlier, his father Robert had crashed at 260kph after his engine seized and he was catapulted over his handlebars. Dunlop Jr was not fancied to win on that day taking on the far more accomplished TT racer John McGuinness, but he overcame his emotions to produce the ride of his life.

What he'll be driving: Norton NRV588 Frank Williams The boss of his eponymous F1 team is the only candidate who makes our list of 10 for his non-driving efforts. Admittedly he had a brief career behind the wheel but it was as a team boss that he became one of F1's most iconic figures. In all, he has celebrated 113 race wins as team boss, nine constructors' titles and six drivers' crowns. He will be at Goodwood as part of the Williams celebrations - marking 30 years since the marque won its first F1 race - but he deserves a mention for true grit. First of all because of the manner in which he set up his F1 team in a disused warehouse and fought off the bailiffs in the early days to lead one of the most successful F1 teams. He also deserves a mention for the fact he has done this as a quadriplegic. Williams has been wheelchair-bound since 1986, when he crashed a rental car on his way from the French Grand Prix, and breaking his neck.

Martin Donnelly The fact that Donnelly is alive at all is more a miracle than an epic feat of endurance. Donnelly had only just begun making his mark in F1 when he lined up for the Spanish Grand Prix in 1990. The iconic image of the race was of Donnelly bunched up motionless on the track after a terrible accident at the Jerez circuit in which he was thrown from his car, hitting the tarmac and sustained multiple broken bones. Much against his doctor's earlier prognosis - who said he would certainly be crippled for life - he not only got back walking, he also returned to racing and still races today. He is still indelibly linked with Lotus and the car he will be driving at Goodwood is a predecessor to the Lotus in which he crashed.

What he'll be driving: Lotus 97T Dan Gurney Gurney became an impressive driver in endurance racing, most notably at Le Mans and F1. He repeatedly showed his true grit but none more impressively than at the Rex Mays 300 Indycar race at Riverside, California. Amid a star-studded field, including Jim Clark, AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti, Gurney clearly had the pace to match everyone in the field and moved into a lead he looked unlikely to yield. However, the American racer punctured and lost nearly two laps for an impromptu pit stop. However, he showed amazingly aggressive driving to steadily claw his way up the field over the 300-mile course and overtook leader Bobby Unser on the last lap for undoubtedly the best win of his career. Afterwards he described the win as "a thing of beauty".

What he'll be driving: To be decided mmajendie@thenational.ae