Onyx-Ford

89onyx.jpgTeam principal Mike Earle had extensive experience in open-wheel racing series when, in 1978, he approached a former colleague, Greg Field, with a view to starting a new team. The new organisation began the following year by entering a homebrewed chassis in the British F2 series, to little avail and in 1980-81 instead ran modified works Marches instead for Johnny Cecotto and Riccardo Paletti. Then the organisation struck lucky – Robin Herd asked Earle to run the March Formula 2 team in 1983 while they concentrated on F1, so the team built valuable experience, moving into F3000 when this replaced F2 as the primary feeder series. Stefano Modena drove their cars to the 1987 title but they weren’t able to repeat the feat with Volker Weidler the following year. Nonetheless, Earle and co had their sights set on F1 and they seemed to have a good base. A neat chassis drawn by former McLaren man Alan Jenkins, the reliable Ford DFR engine and a mixture of youth and experience in the shape of rookie Bertrand Gachot and Stefan Johansson on driving duties. Coming with Gachot was his sponsor, eccentric Belgian millionaire Jean Pierre van Rossem who initially provided funds through sponsorship from his Moneytron firm, but soon bought a controlling interest and became co-owner. Nobody thought much of the paint job, but otherwise they might do well.


89Johansson2.jpg36. Stefan Johansson se

The 32-year-old Swede had had a torrid 1988 season in the dire Ligier and when Onyx came calling with their resources and promising future he gratefully accepted. Winding up at Ligier after being unable to find a top drive following his departure from McLaren, he would be hoping that it could be a ticket back to the top if he could be in on the ground floor at a successful new venture. He will certainly need to re-establish his credentials after having been outperformed by Arnoux at Ligier.

 


89gachot.jpg37. Bertrand Gachot be

Born in Luxembourg to a French EEC official and German mother, Gachot was truly international and indeed always claimed his nationality as simply “European”, though he races on a Belgian superlicence. Beginning in karting, he attended the prestigious French racing school at Winfield before heading to Britain to compete in domestic racing. Beginning in Formula Ford 1600, he progressed to win the British Formula Ford title in 1986. In 1987 he came second in the Formula 3 series with West Surrey Racing, then moved into F3000 with Spirit. A slew of early retirements then a late season spurt saw him finish 5th in the standings but nonetheless he was regarded as a very promising youngster.

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