Jenson But­ton is known as F1’s smoothest driver. But given the chance to pay trib­ute to his fam­ily’s history in a 600bhp ral­ly­cross Bee­tle, he took things a bit more… side­ways

F1 Racing - - YOU -

The scene is one of Sty­gian murk: gloomy skies, lash­ing rain, mud. But no mat­ter, for the Kent coun­try­side is cheered by the rorty rum­ble of a hopped-up at­four en­gine, and the gale brings a tinge of hy­per­ac­tive hy­dro­car­bons. To­day Jenson But­ton’s per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives come full cir­cle in more ways than one.

Not only is Jenson sliding be­hind the wheel of a mon­ster Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle ral­ly­cross car sim­i­lar to the one in which his fa­ther cam­paigned dur­ing the 1970s, but we also nd our­selves at the Ly­d­den Hill ral­ly­cross cir­cuit in Kent, a fre­quent John But­ton stamp­ing ground back in the day, later bought by Jenson’s McLaren team with a view to de­vel­op­ing it into their equiv­a­lent of Fer­rari’s Fio­rano test track. This be­ing South East Eng­land, the lo­cal burghers swiftly dis­patched that no­tion into the long grass, and Ly­d­den, which staged the world’s rst ral­ly­cross event in 1967, re­tained its sta­tus as Bri­tain’s home of chaotic multi-sur­face mo­tor­sport.

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