DANIELSSON’S TRIBUTE ACT
When it became clear after a trip to Willi Dungl’s clinic that nothing more could be done for his legs, Martin Donnelly started his own team, which became a regular on the UK junior-formula scene in the 1990s with future isport man Gavin Jones at the helm.
Today, Donnelly rates ex-jaguar and Prost Formula 1 driver Luciano Burti as the best – “by miles” – of his Martin Donnelly Racing alumni, who also cover BTCC champion Jason Plato, DTM race winner Peter Dumbreck and future Champ Car racer Mario
Haberfeld, winner of the
British Grand Prix-supporting Formula 3 race with MDR in 1997.
But it was after MDR wound down and Donnelly linked up with Comtec’s Jonathan Lewis that the greatest success of his managerial career arrived, guiding Alx Danielsson to an unlikely title in the 2006 Formula Renault 3.5 series (below).
Having managed no better than fourth in the first half of the season, Comtec was on the brink of going under after losing two tubs at Spa, but a small change in style turned Danielsson into an unstoppable force reminiscent of Donnelly’s breakout year in 1988, prompting jibes from rival teams.
“People thought, ‘They’re cheating, they’re doing something different’, but it was him just thinking because he had new tyres on that he could move his braking point five or 10 metres down the track,” says Donnelly.
“He wasn’t in control of getting the car stopped on the apex and was slower on the gas getting out. Once he realised that, the next three races he was on pole.”