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