LONGINES IN ROLAND GARROS

Jacky Ickx on For­mula One rac­ing and his re­la­tion­ship with Chopard

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Calibre - WORDS FARHAN SHAH PHO­TOS CHOPARD

JACKY ICKX IS a rebel. He al­ways has been. And this was what prob­a­bly kept him alive in the dan­ger­ous world of mo­tor rac­ing back in the day. Ickx had been against the tra­di­tional run­ning start in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans races, be­liev­ing that it was ex­tremely un­safe for the driver. To shave off pre­cious sec­onds, many driv­ers would nei­ther shut the car door prop­erly nor fas­ten their seat­belts.

At the 1969 race, Ickx walked to his Ford GT40 in protest while his peers ran to their re­spec­tive ve­hi­cles. Nat­u­rally, Ickx was last. How­ever, the ta­lented driver and his part­ner went on to win the race. In a cruel twist of fate, one of the driv­ers in the same race, John Woolfe, suf­fered a fa­tal crash on the first lap. He would have sur­vived, had he taken the time to belt him­self in. Ickx’s protest was vin­di­cated. In the fol­low­ing year, the Le Mans or­gan­is­ers aban­doned the run­ning start. Driv­ers now started the race while prop­erly se­cured in the car.

Hon­est Thoughts on For­mula One

Decades later, Ickx still re­tains that re­bel­lious­ness as well as the nat­u­ral charisma that al­lows him to get away with it. We were seated in the pri­vate room of the Chopard bou­tique at Ngee Ann City, ex­chang­ing sto­ries and opin­ions about mo­tor rac­ing back then and now, when I de­cided to slip in a ques­tion about For­mula One.

“Would I change any­thing about For­mula One? It’s hard for me to an­swer be­cause I’m

not in­volved in it and no one has asked me for my opin­ion,” he replied with a cheeky smile. “But there’s an easy way to know if you’re do­ing a good job ‒ that is if the view­er­ship num­bers are in­creas­ing year on year.”

For the record, the to­tal num­ber of view­ers has dropped by 41.3 per cent since a decade ago. What has con­tin­ued on an up­ward trend, how­ever, is his long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Chopard. Ickx and the watch­maker’s co-pres­i­dent Karl-Friedrich Scheufele first met in 1989 at the Mille Miglia rally and be­came fast friends.

“We found out that we had many sim­i­lar­i­ties and we de­cided to con­tinue com­ing to Mille Miglia each year to­gether. He would drive and I would be his co-driver, which suited me be­cause Scheufele is an ex­cel­lent driver. Through the decades, he would of­fer to do lim­ited edi­tion Chopard ‘Jacky Ickx’ watches. I’m ok but I al­ways told him that he would never be able to sell them. Each time, I’m proven wrong,” Ickx laughs.

The rac­ing sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian doesn’t view his re­la­tion­ship with Chopard as a busi­ness trans­ac­tion but an ex­ten­sion of his friend­ship with Scheufele. It helps that he’s able to con­tinue trav­el­ling the world do­ing what he loves best ‒ rac­ing. More im­por­tantly, he iden­ti­fies with the fa­mil­ial at­mos­phere of the com­pany.

“In other com­pa­nies, you have the CEO and the share­hold­ers. But in Chopard, the fam­ily un­der­stands that the watch­mak­ers, ar­ti­sans, etc. are im­por­tant cogs for suc­cess. It’s a lot like rac­ing. One per­son doesn’t make a team.

It’s not just my win; it’s ours.” AM

“IN OTHER COM­PA­NIES, YOU HAVE THE CEO AND THE SHARE­HOLD­ERS. BUT IN CHOPARD, THE FAM­ILY UN­DER­STANDS THAT THE WATCH­MAK­ERS, AR­TI­SANS ARE IM­POR­TANT COGS FOR SUC­CESS”

Mille Miglia 2018 Race Edi­tion chrono­graph; Jacky Ickx at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1976

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