Tai­lored Re­sourc­ing and Ac­coun­tancy is firmly be­hind ris­ing sportscar star Alex Toth-jones, who will climb the GT lad­der next year

Autosport (UK) - - INSIGHT -

RIS­ING SPORTSCAR STAR ALEX TOTH-JONES is a man who likes a chal­lenge. That much was ev­i­dent from the very first mo­ments he ventured on to a race track.

The 21-year-old from Leeds is now fly­ing high in the Ginetta GT5 Chal­lenge, de­spite only be­ing in his third sea­son of car rac­ing. He cel­e­brated his maiden podium fin­ishes this year and sits fifth in the stand­ings with Richard­son Rac­ing ahead of this week­end’s sea­son fi­nale at Don­ing­ton Park.

But it’s fair to say he’s a late en­try into the sport, who is de­ter­mined to make up for lost time. He grew up in a fam­ily of mo­tor­sport fans but, be­ing the first to take the plunge into com­pet­ing meant he had to learn the hard way.

He first tried a kart dur­ing a Birth­day out­ing, and then got his own Ju­nior Ro­tax chas­sis. Run­ning it along­side his fa­ther,

Pete, in as many Trent Val­ley Kart Club (TVKC) and North­ern Kart­ing Fed­er­a­tion (NKF) events as they could – in­clud­ing high-pro­file meet­ings at tracks like PF In­ter­na­tional – be­fore tack­ling the Kart Masters Bri­tish Grand Prix twice.

“Run­ning as a dad-and-lad team was great and we learned so much,” says Alex. “We got by on ask­ing ad­vice and lis­ten­ing to people. We later got the sup­port of an en­gi­neer called Chris Seville, who had Euro­pean and Su­per One experience, and he helped push us to the sharp end.”

But kart­ing never held a long-term ap­peal for Alex. He opted against Su­per One in favour of a move to car rac­ing, prompted by pro­lific kart racer and Ginetta fac­tory driver Mike Simp­son.

“Mike had done some coach­ing with me in kart­ing and told me about the GT5S,” adds Alex, who in 2013 was cho­sen by the MSA to com­plete an Ad­vanced Ap­pren­tice­ship in Sport­ing Ex­cel­lence (AASE) be­fore grad­u­at­ing from the MSA Academy. In 2014 he was run­ner-up in the MSA Rac­ing Steps Foun­da­tion Young Driver of the Year award.

Alex joined Richard­son mid­way through 2016, and im­me­di­ately im­pressed.

“It’s a bril­liant car and cham­pi­onship,” he says. “The rac­ing is so close and the se­ries gets great cov­er­age. Kart­ing teaches you great race­craft. The GT5 is a tricky car to drive and is renowned for be­ing dif­fi­cult to get the best out of.

“It was a learn­ing curve, and took me at least the first year to fully get to grips with it. We made progress in sea­son two and this year is the one where we’ve re­ally chal­lenged at the front.”

Alex cel­e­brated two sec­ond place fin­ishes at Rock­ing­ham this year, which he ad­mit­ted “felt like a win” af­ter all the ef­forts of his team, spon­sors and sup­port­ers. He has since marked him­self out as a threat for the podium in each round.

For next year, he’s al­ready work­ing on a grad­u­a­tion into the Bri­tish GT4 Cham­pi­onship, with the sup­port of key spon­sor, Tai­lored Re­sourc­ing

& Ac­coun­tancy.

“Tai­lored came on­board with me this year and hav­ing their sup­port has been amaz­ing,” says Alex. “It’s def­i­nitely brought me sta­bil­ity and the sup­port away from the track makes things so much more com­fort­able. It means I can fo­cus fully on my rac­ing and stay more re­laxed, and I think that’s showed in the re­sults this year.

“The plan is GT4 next year as it’s the next step on the lad­der. Ul­ti­mately, I want to cre­ate a ca­reer in this sport and se­cure a paid fac­tory drive. The iconic place for any sporstcar fan is Le Mans, so hope­fully my ca­reer can take me in that di­rec­tion.”

the Euro­pean races, be­cause of de­lays de­vel­op­ing the Ge­trag­built gear­box, which Peter­son would rou­tinely run on the Fri­day of each event early in the sea­son.“when we switched back [to the Hew­land gear­box] it would al­ter the car’s bal­ance, and we had to do a bit of catch­ing up on the sec­ond day of prac­tice,” says Ben­nett. “That set the 79 back un­til the driv­ers said, ‘Look, there’s no way this gear­box is go­ing to work. We’ve got to race with the Hew­land in the 79.’”

Peter­son took a thrilling win at Kyalami, where he passed

Pa­trick De­pailler’s Tyrrell on the fi­nal lap, and a sub­lime vic­tory at the Oster­re­ichring in the wet. And he also played back-up to An­dretti. “There were some races where he felt he couldn’t have over­taken Mario,” re­calls Ben­nett, “and other races where he felt he could have, but didn’t. Mario has stated that he never got close enough to over­take, but I think the truth is that Ron­nie felt in the cir­cum­stances where there was risk of an ac­ci­dent, he was sen­si­ble enough not to try it. It can lead to dis­as­ter, as we’ve seen this year…”

Then came Monza, a race that, iron­i­cally amid the tragedy, crowned An­dretti as cham­pion. “I was on the fourth row of the grid, and Ron­nie was di­rectly ahead of me,” says Wat­son, who was driv­ing for Brab­ham. “As we moved for­ward, Ron­nie moved from left to right, which opened up a gap down the left-hand side, which I went down. The next thing I re­alise is when we came around again for the next lap and I see a plane wreck on the race track.

“[Vit­to­rio] Bram­billa had been hit by a wheel on the hel­met and he was pretty much un­con­scious. Ron­nie was in the Lo­tus 78 [a crash with his race 79 had con­signed him to the older car], and the footwell on that thing was crap. It was not a car you wanted to have a front-end shunt in be­cause, frankly, it was aw­ful. So it col­lapsed around Ron­nie and he suf­fered se­ri­ous leg in­juries.

Then it caught fire. James [Hunt] among oth­ers was in­volved in as­sist­ing him out of the car and putting the fire out.”

Ben­nett re­futes sug­ges­tions that the 78 had such a weak­ness: “I’ve got no ev­i­dence to say that the 78 was any weaker than any­thing else. I think it had hon­ey­comb pan­els, so it was a stan­dard sort of con­struc­tion at the time. In fact I would have said it was stronger than the 79.

“He’d had a brake fail­ure in the 79 and done some dam­age, and there was all this blame af­ter the ac­ci­dent; Chap­man took it out on people that we’d never had a spare 79. But, to be fair, he’d sacked a lot of the work­force be­cause he thought they were too ex­pen­sive. He once came in and said, ‘Ken Tyrrell’s only got 32 people work­ing for him; how come I’ve got 42?’ So he sacked 10.

“I re­mem­ber at the time of the ac­ci­dent Chap­man must have had in­cred­i­bly good eye­sight, be­cause he was look­ing down the pit­lane and he said, ‘Nigel, you’d bet­ter stick by me, I think we’re in trou­ble’. I could see there was an ac­ci­dent, but I couldn’t see who was in­volved, be­cause it’s quite a long way to that first chi­cane. It was pretty mor­bid ob­vi­ously. Dread­ful.”

It looked as though Peter­son would sur­vive, but blood clots caused by a bone-mar­row in­fec­tion led to tragedy on Mon­day morn­ing. “My con­cern was pri­mar­ily for Ron­nie,” says Wat­son.

“The word we were get­ting back was that he’d got se­vere leg in­juries and mi­nor burns, but noth­ing of any sig­nif­i­cance and in the­ory he’ll be OK. I stayed overnight in Mi­lan, as I was trav­el­ling to see a friend who was un­well in Switzer­land, and it was only when I ar­rived and walked into their hos­pi­tal that I was told Ron­nie had died. I have never fainted in my life, but I al­most col­lapsed when

I was told. It was aw­ful. I feel it now the way I did at the time.”

Honourable, self-ef­fac­ing, and a hard-charg­ing, spec­tac­u­lar racer, Peter­son’s loss was felt by ev­ery­one. “He was al­most a Zeus fig­ure,” says Wat­son. “He was a good-look­ing guy, mega-quick, and he drove the car in a way which is some­times in the im­age of what a rac­ing driver should do – it was visu­ally quick, spec­tac­u­lar. In mo­tor­sport, there are per­son­al­i­ties who are liked, there are per­son­al­i­ties who are tol­er­ated, there are some who are not liked, there are some who are hated. And Ron­nie was the one who ev­ery­one liked a lot – liked him as a man, liked him as a rac­ing driver. He was just a re­ally nice guy.”

Monza shunt was se­ri­ous but should not have been fa­tal

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