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Toyota TS020 GT One

Photo: Pete Austin

Looking back, I have to say I enjoyed every moment of my racing career. From the first time I ever sat in a racing car I couldn’t believe something like this was happening to me. It was my hobby, my passion, and became my life. In Belgium I started as soon as I could, which was 18 years old. I was very lucky and gained support from many people, I didn’t have too much trouble attracting sponsors to finance me. My dream was to get into Formula One. Once I was there I stayed for ten great years, driving for some of the best teams. I cannot actually say that any one particular race or circumstance stands out as better than any other. My first Formula Ford win was just as great as my first Grand Prix win. In my days of racing too, I think most drivers used their brains to race. Now, it’s all done by computer and strategists outside the car. The input from a driver is much less now than just a few years ago, I cannot say it’s better or worse—just very different.

Early in my career I had quite a big accident at Le Mans. It was just after the first hour of the 1981 race. I was driving the WM P81-Peugeot through the kink which was just before the corner that leads into the Mulsanne. I was driving at about 350kph when the suspension failed. The car hit the barrier violently, but although very shaken I wasn’t hurt too badly. Unfortunately, some marshals were hit by flying debris and weren’t so lucky. Accidents affect drivers in different ways, for me it was a learning curve and made me more mature as a driver. I certainly didn’t question my future in racing, or have any desire of retiring. In motor racing you have to accept that accidents happen.

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