November 3, 2013

Nicki Thiim is the 2013 Porsche Supercup Champion.

Danemark's Nicki Thiim won round 8 of the Porsche Supercup championship in Abu Dhabi and becomes the 2013 series champion. He did it in style, with a great move on the last lap of race when he let Carrera Cup Asia's champion Earl Bamber outbrake himself and run off the pavement.

Surely a win with a heavy heart for Thiim who dedicated the win to Sean Edwards. We applause Porsche for not giving in to the public pressure raised by an online petition demanding for the German manufacturer to give the championship to Edwards. We are guessing a racer like Sean would never have gone along with such a plan.

After the tragic accident in Australia there was a lot written online about it, some was good some was not as appropriate. Given the circumstances of the accident, we reached out to professional driver coaches for their thoughts. Ross Bentley, head of a group of extremely experienced professionals who publish the Speed Secrets newsletter, shared his thoughts on this difficult subject after the break

It was fourteen years ago today, October 31st, 1999, that my friend Greg Moore was killed at Fontana in an Indy car. At that time, I had just finished a season of racing in the American Le Mans Series, and beyond feeling very sad for the loss of a great driver and friend, I did take time to think about our sport.

I recall thinking that Greg was far too young, and had far too much left to accomplish, to contribute. It wasn’t fair.

A few weeks ago I watched a documentary, “1,” about Formula One from the 1960s to today. It focused on how dangerous F1 was compared to today. It tells the story of the era when multiple drivers would be killed every year, where racers would sit in a driver’s meeting and look at the others around them and wonder which one would die that day. But now, drivers walk away from some of the most horrifying crashes. The documentary points out that no Formula One driver has been killed since Ayrton Senna back in 1994 – almost twenty years ago.

When Senna died, I recall thinking that it was not fair.

Three weeks ago I had that same feeling. This time it was Sean Edwards I was thinking about. I didn’t know Sean, but I knew of him. I knew of his ability behind the wheel. And many friends, before that time and since, have told me stories about how helpful he was to others.
The difference with Sean was that he was killed while instructing another driver, while riding in the passenger seat, not driving. For instructors, that hit home - it was especially shocking. If it could happen to Sean, it could happen to them.

I’ve instructed from the passenger seat with thousands of drivers over the past three decades. While I’ve had more than a few “scares,” I’ve been fortunate to have never been in a crash while instructing. But I always knew it could happen.

I’ve heard much talk about whether instructors should ride in the passenger seat of a car being driven near the limit on a race track. Some say no, some say yes. I say, “It depends.” If I feel confident with the driver I’m instructing, that he or she respects me enough to truly listen to what I say and we’re working as a partnership in learning, I’m perfectly okay with in-car instructing. In fact, I love it. I feel that I have a huge amount of control, almost driving the car with my words and actions.

But in-car instructing is not for everyone, and those who don’t enjoy it should not do it.

Disturbing to me, I’ve even heard it said that Sean wasted his life, dying while coaching a driver, and not racing himself - as if coaching someone else is not as meaningful as driving. But it was apparent that he had a passion for helping others learn to be better drivers.
Sean Edwards’s last Twitter post was, “Time to hit Queensland Raceway today, should be fun, hope there aren't too many kangaroos like at Bathurst!”
His mother, Daphne McKinley, was quoted as saying, "I said to him just a few days before 'why are you going to Australia to do a lesson? You are winning the championship. You don't need to go'. And he said, 'well Mum, I love mentoring'. He loved bringing on young drivers though the ranks, and he died doing it."

Does that sound like someone who didn't enjoy coaching, someone who was wasting his time, and his life?

Much has been said and written about the fact that Sean, like Greg, Ayrton and many others, died while doing what they loved to do. Is that how we try to put things like the death of someone with much more to contribute in a way that we can accept? Is that how we try to make it seem more "fair?"
Maybe the only thing that is unfair is when people haven’t found their passions the way Greg, Ayrton, and Sean Edwards did.

In the movie, Le Mans, Steve McQueen said, “When you’re racing, it... it’s life. Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting.” Maybe it’s only the waiting that’s unfair...


  1. Great article. I didnt know much about Sean either.. But witnessing the NGT team's memorial livery be unveiled at Petit Le Mans, and his fellow drivers reactions.. I knew he had to be a special guy. A sight i'll never forget. RIP

  2. I'm considering not getting up so early to watch these races at this point... I always wanted to think that Vettel wasn't that good, but it's so obvious that isn't true i wouldn't dare try to suggest that he isn't anymore... Just don't understand how he is able to be so dominant in such an elite field of drivers. So many world champions on the grid at the same time and Vettel just drives circles around them. I want to attribute a lot of it to the car, but Mark still can't do much with the same car. I just can't call it, but here is to hoping next season mixes things up a bit and gives some other drivers a chance... Not even the Pirelli's have been able to stop Seb lol I must give credit where it is due and whatever zone he is in at the moment appears to be in a different league.

  3. Well, I mean, it was nice to think that maybe RBR would dial it back a little, give some hope of a show, but obviously they don't care too much about causing viewers around the world to simply tune out or fall asleep.

    One of the...derp de derp...'announcers' on NBC sports (probably Matchett) defended this stupid display of bloated budgets and overspending on RBR's part by saying that the FIA could penalize them points or some other nonsense so RBR should continue grabbing as many points as possible. This explanation took most of the time between two commercial breaks (zzzzzzzzzzzzz). I just said 'wtf?' and wandered off to make breakfast.

    I can't help but think that maybe all that money spent on Vettel's car (let's face it, he's got better gear than Webber, NO driver is worth 2-3 seconds per lap at F1 levels) could have been better spent if they'd given it to NBC so they could send more than one hokey kid to the actual race to do interviews. It's no wonder American support of F1 is in such a state when they waste like 4 minutes of pre-race show (out of 30) with Matchett blabbering on about what compound is called the option and which is called the prime and why. RBR would have an easier time building brand recognition helping publicize F1 than it does simply crushing it's competitors on-track. It just turns a guy off knowing there really isn't any competition going on until you hit midfield.

  4. Didn't watch, and do not plan to watch another until next season, when the new engines are in. Watching the 'cheating' Red Bull Team makes my stomach turn, and I'll give my middle finger to their uber wonder klone, Vittles.

    Boring, Boring, Boring

  5. It's good to hear I'm not the only one completely fed up with NBC's second rate coverage. Between the commercial breaks spanning 3-4 laps, all of the promos for the network's other programming and tidbits like "Wish You Were Here" with Buxton (as the race is happening), I debated turning it off and checking the results online. Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't the announcers also mixing up Webber and Vettel at the start? Too many on air mistakes, too many elementary-level explanations and way too many commercials. I have to keep lying to myself that I don't pay an extra $15 a month for this "premium" station...

    Overall another Formula 1 snooze fest. Kudos to Newey's and Vettel's stars aligning for a match made in heaven but this "sport" seriously needs to mix it up. Who really wants to watch this for another 2-3 years?

  6. My favorite quote of the weekend was "Where exactly are the track limits? Is it the first white line or the second?"

    Really guys? Haven't watched a lot of Motorsport have you?

  7. Wasn't Sutil in front of Grosjean for quite a while after first pit stops? Not sure which FI was, and if it was after that position gaining, but Romain lost a lot of time there. Considering he ended really close to Nico, fair to say if hadn't he been stuck there (a penalty would put the Force India somewhere else), he could've gone 3rd again. Point is, FIA penalties don't just affect the drivers involved in one incident, it may mess up even the top drivers/results.

  8. Since you pay for the coverage - I wouldn't feel bad at all downloading the BBC/Sky file to get the much better commentary/pre-race/post-race.

  9. Well, to be fair, one or two of them once worked as a team mechanic back in the 1980's...but haven't set foot in the paddock for years - literally, they've been announcing from a booth for at least as long as FOX owned the rights, and I can't even remember if they made it to Austin last year.

    The few little segments they do air treat F1 viewers like drunken redneck NASCAR fans and they air at least as many commercials as actual race so I've nearly given up on NBC. I knew from Australia their 'new' format was just like the old and wasn't interested but I thought I'd give them a few races this season to feel 'em out. My mistake.

  10. I'd drop the extra channel package and either look into the streaming services or just wait - totally avoiding any internet for the duration of sunday - until a decent torrent pops up. Usually within about 4 hours you can grab the full race coverage (not just the race as NBC shows) from SKY or BBC. Sometimes the commercials are edited out of the pre-and-post-race segments, but you'll quickly note the difference in understanding when you can watch the whole thing without an hour of commercials stuffed inbetween.

    Nothing quite like watching actual pit lane interviews and in-depth technical reports, qualifying recaps, and pst-race analysis in HD where you can pause it anytime you want. Until American viewers demand better programming, we'll keep getting shorted.

  11. Actually Pirelli and all the teams inadvertently helped RBR with the tire change in the mid season. They make the tire more rigid with the old kevlar belt like the 2012 specs. IF you looks that is when Seb domination started.

    Still I think is not only the car, I think driver and TEAM and so well in sync that they can do this kind of things.

    I do think that Mark W does not have a handicapped car, what I do think is Mark is not able to understanding, or is not good enough, as Vettel does.

    For example look at Marks starts...

    I'm not a Vettel fan... but as a package RBR and Vettel are the best.

    I'm guessing the only way ppl stop saying is the car and not him... is if he change to other team. Still everyone forgets his first win.


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