Paddy Hopkirk death: Northern Ireland motorsport legend passes away aged 89 – BBC
Motorsport story Paddy Hopkirk, most famous for winning the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, has died aged fifth 89.
On Friday a family statement announced his passing “with huge sadness”.
Hopkirk “passed aside peacefully” at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire on Thursday, they said.
One of the most decorated rally drivers Northern Ireland has produced, Hopkirk is survived by their wife Jenny, their three children Katie, Patrick and William, plus six grandchildren.
“First and foremost, Paddy was a loving husband, father plus grandfather, whose passing will leave the huge hole in the particular lives of those closest to him, ” read the statement.
“But Paddy also leaves an incredible legacy associated with motorsport and business success, while his hard work in support of the British motorsport and wider car industry continued until his final days.
“His family, friends plus fans will certainly never forget his sharp wit and wicked smile. He brought fun plus joy to anyone within his company and inspired many. ”
Competed in Ireland in europe and upon global stage
Born in Belfast in April 1933, he competed with regard to many years in Ireland and on the particular global phase and won the famous Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S.
Hopkirk first learned the basics of car control aged nine, when a local clergyman left him their invalid carriage in his will.
The young Hopkirk later graduated in order to a motorcycle with a sidecar – which was added at the insistence of their father, who felt it would be safer.
Upon attending Trinity College Dublin to study engineering, he acquired an Austin 7 ‘Chummy’ Tourer which he used to make his move debut.
Now bitten by the car bug, Hopkirk dropped out of university to start working for Dublin’s Volkswagen assembler’s retail operation in Ballsbridge, where this individual purchased the string of used Volkswagen Beetles to enter competitions.
Hopkirk’s first win came in 1953 at the particular Cairncastle Hillclimb in the wheel of a VW Beetle and he was subsequently offered a free Beetle regarding the first of many Circuit of Ireland in europe appearances.
He started his winning career in professional racing and rally driving within 1955, taking a class win in that year’s Circuit associated with Ireland, plus clinching his first Hewison Trophy, awarded to the most successful Irish move driver of the year. He would go on in order to win the particular trophy intended for three consecutive years.
By this time he had graduated to a Triumph TR2 and his success with that manufacturer has been noticed by the Standard Motor Company, that offered Hopkirk his 1st factory drive in a Standard Ten on the 1956 RAC Move in March of that 12 months, where he took the early lead before suffering problems later on.
Two months later he or she took the Standard Eight to third place in the Tulip Rally within the Netherlands – their first journey outside associated with Britain and Ireland.
However he lost his drive with Standard in 1958, after overdriving their car from the Alpine Rally in an effort to make up time lost due to a puncture on the Stelvio Pass, damaging the engine and forcing him in order to retire from the competition.
The following year this individual joined the Rootes Group as a works driver, initially picking up a drive within a Hillman Husky at the Safari Rally after reigning F1 World Champion Mike Hawthorn, who was originally meant to drive the car, was killed in the road accident.
Later that yr he placed third overall and required a course win with the Alpine Rally inside a Sunbeam Rapier, and he or she led the particular 1960 Safari Rally till his Rapier suffered a differential failure.
He took two Circuit of Ireland wins in 1961 and 1962 and another in the Alpine Rally in 1961. Whilst at Rootes Hopkirk furthermore took part in circuit racing, successful his class within a Rapier in the touring car race supporting the 1960 British Grand Prix.
He finished third on the 1962 Monte Carlo Rally in the Sunbeam Rapier but had been becoming frustrated by the particular Rapier’s lack of reliability, culminating in all three works cars blowing their engines within the space of a kilometre at that year’s Acropolis Rally.
Joining the British Engine Corporation
After being impressed by the test generate of Pat Moss’ Austin-Healey 3000, he set his mind on a move, joining the Uk Motor Corporation and making his debut in a 3000 at the Liège-Sofia-Liege rally within August.
In their second competitors with the 3000, the RAC Rally, this individual finished in second despite having to complete two miles of a special stage along with a shredded tyre after a puncture.
He very first competed in a Mini on the 1963 Monte Carlo Move, where he or she finished sixth and a year later that will famous achievement at Monte Carlo, alongside Henry Liddon, followed.
They are the particular most recent all-British crew to have received the event and he also led BMC to the team win, with fellow Mini drivers Timo Makinen plus Rauno Aaltonen pacing fourth and seventh.
The victory made Hopkirk the household name – he received telegrams from the then UK Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home and the Beatles, was given the particular Freedom associated with the City of Belfast, and appeared along with his Mini on Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
He went on in order to steer an Austin-Healey to victory in his next international rally, the Osterreichische Alpenfahrt, afterwards that season.
In 1965, he earned a Coupe d’Argent at the Alpine Rally and arrived first within the 1965 plus 1967 Signal of Ireland Rally, the particular 1966 and 1967 Alpine Rally, as well as the 1967 Move Acropolis.
Personal accolades and life-saving actions
Hopkirk was elected as a life member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club within 1967, and was furthermore president of the Historic Rally Car Register, and a patron associated with disability charity WheelPower.
In 1968, in the London-Sydney Marathon, Hopkirk gallantly gave upward any chance of victory on the penultimate stage to rescue the Bianchi-Ogier team then in the guide, whose Citroen DS experienced just collided head-on along with another vehicle on a road supposedly closed to traffic.
Hopkirk great team-mate Tony Nash managed to pull out occupants from both cars that were starting in order to burn, probably saving the particular life of severely wounded Lucien Bianchi in the process.
The incident happened just ahead associated with Hopkirk’s Austin tx 1800. By driving back to warn onlookers and the police, Hopkirk and Nash likely also prevented an additional crash with any incoming participants.
Hopkirk’s crew went upon to complete the particular rally in second.
Hopkirk elected to step away from full-time competition at the end of that calendar year, coinciding along with British Leyland head Lord Stokes’ decision to close down BL’s competition department.
Within 1977, with co-driver Taylor Mike, this individual took component once again in a revived edition of the London-Sydney Marathon, the Singapore Airlines London in order to Sydney Rally, this time driving a Citroen CX 2400, getting third place overall within front associated with another CX driven by Claude Laurent and Jean-Claude Ogier, who else had been rescued simply by Hopkirk plus Nash in 1968.
Five years hence, he gained the RAC Golden 50, a historical anniversary competition celebrating the particular 50th RAC Rally, along with co-driver Brian Culcheth within the Small Cooper with which Timo Makinen had won the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally.
Eight many years later, he or she won the Pirelli Classic Marathon with co-driver Alec Poole and in 1994, he entered the particular Monte Carlo Rally once again, driving a current Mini Cooper, very similar to the original car, but now produced by Rover Team.
Thirty yrs after his famous win, Hopkirk and his co-pilot Ron Crellin finished the race in 60th location against much more modern plus powerful machines.
In 2010, he has been among the first four inductees into the Move Hall of Fame, along with Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Erik Carlsson and had been awarded a good MBE within the 2016 New Year’s Honours List.