P­re­to­ria-born F1 de­sig­ner to be ho­nou­red

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - News -

Ro­ry Byr­ne is one of mo­tor s­port’s most success­ful de­sig­ners and was one of the brains be­hind S­chu­ma­cher’s do­mi­nan­ce. The South A­fri­can is kno­wn as de­sig­ner of the For­mu­la 1 cars that took Mi­cha­el S­chu­ma­cher to a re­cord num­ber of Grand P­rix wins at Be­net­ton and Fer­ra­ri. He is to be in­ducted in­to the South A­fri­can Hall of Fa­me at Con­cours South A­fri­ca 2018, held this y­e­ar from 10 to 12 Au­gust at the S­teyn Ci­ty Park­land Re­si­den­ce.

The in­ducti­on of Byr­ne fol­lows last y­e­ar’s Con­cours South A­fri­ca-hos­ted in­ducti­on ce­re­mo­ny, w­he­re Sa­rel van der Mer­we and Ian S­check­ter we­re in­ducted.

The Hall of Fa­me ho­nours out­stan­ding a­chie­vements a­mong South A­fri­cans and in­ductees in­clu­de la­te sta­tes­man Nelson Man­de­la, gol­fer Ga­ry Play­er and athle­te Way­de van Nie­kerk.

Byr­ne is one of the most success­ful For­mu­la 1 car de­sig­ners of all ti­me, with his a­chie­vements ra­ting al­ongs­i­de the li­kes of A­dri­an Ne­wey, Co­lin C­hap­man and a­not­her South A­fri­can, Gor­don Mur­ray.

Born in P­re­to­ria in 1944, Byr­ne sho­wed e­ar­ly signs of his bril­li­an­ce w­hen he and his brot­her Ga­vin won a wor­ld mo­del ai­r­craft g­li­ding cham­pi­ons­hip w­hi­le s­till at high school. Af­ter obtai­ning a BSc in che­mi­stry and ap­p­lied mat­he­ma­ti­cs at the U­ni­ver­si­ty of the Wit­wa­ters­rand in 1964, Ro­ry was bit­ten by the mo­tor ra­cing bug and soon en­te­red a mo­di­fied Ford Ang­lia in the Trans­vaal Pro­ducti­on Car Cham­pi­ons­hip.

He quick­ly mo­ved on to de­sig­ning For­mu­la Ford sin­gle-se­a­ter ra­cers and one of his cars was run­ner-up in the 1972 South A­fri­can Cham­pi­ons­hip.

This success mo­ti­va­ted Ro­ry to mo­ve to the UK, and soon he was chief de­sig­ner at the fa­mous Roy­a­le ra­cing car ma­nu­fac­tu­rer w­he­re his cars won B­ri­tish For­mu­la Ford C­ham­pi­ons­hips in the mid-1970s.

In 1978 he joi­ned To­le­man Group Mo­tor­sport, w­he­re he de­sig­ned Eu­ro­pe­an C­ham­pi­ons­hip­win­ning For­mu­la 2 cars. To­le­man then mo­ved in­to For­mu­la 1 with Ro­ry as their de­sig­ner. In 1984 a To­le­man-Hart in the hands of Ayr­ton Sen­na ca­me within a whis­ker of win­ning the Mo­na­co Grand P­rix of that y­e­ar.

To­le­man was sub­se­quent­ly boug­ht out by I­ta­li­an clo­thing com­pa­ny Be­net­ton. In the Mex­i­can Grand P­rix of 1986, Byr­ne a­chie­ved one of his li­fe­long am­bi­ti­ons w­hen a car of his de­sign won a Grand P­rix, dri­ven by Aus­tri­an Ger­hard Ber­ger.

Byr­ne was at Be­net­ton in 1992 w­hen the te­am took on a bril­li­ant young Ger­man dri­ver na­med Mi­cha­el S­chu­ma­cher. By the end of 1994, S­chu­ma­cher had won the Wor­ld Dri­ver’s Cham­pi­ons­hip, a fe­at he re­pe­a­ted in 1995 with the Byr­ne-de­sig­ned Be­net­ton-Re­nault B195. In the sa­me y­e­ar, Be­net­ton re­cei­ved the ac­co­la­de of the F1 Con­struc­tor’s Cham­pi­ons­hip.

W­hen S­chu­ma­cher left Be­net­ton at the end of that y­e­ar, Ro­ry de­ci­ded to re­ti­re from For­mu­la 1 to set up a scu­ba di­ving cen­t­re in T­hai­land; di­ving being his ot­her gre­at lo­ve.

But as Fer­ra­ri batt­led for F1 pa­ce, Byr­ne was soon en­ti­ced to Ma­ra­nel­lo to set a­bout re­de­sig­ning the new Fer­ra­ri V10 ra­cer. This dre­am te­am, led by the Na­po­le­o­nic Je­an Todt, in­clu­ded mas­ter F1 stra­te­gist Ross Bra­wn.

Byr­ne’s re­ward was an un­pre­ce­den­ted run of success in For­mu­la 1 for cars be­a­ring his de­sign sig­na­tu­re.

Dri­ving Byr­ne-de­sig­ned Fer­ra­ris, S­chu­ma­cher won the Wor­ld For­mu­la 1 Cham­pi­ons­hip for fi­ve straig­ht se­a­sons, from 2000 to 2004, and Fer­ra­ri took the Con­struc­tor’s C­ham­pi­ons­hips in e­ach of tho­se y­e­ars too.

As a de­sig­ner, Byr­ne can look back on se­ven dri­ver’s c­ham­pi­ons­hips and six con­struc­tor’s c­ham­pi­ons­hips won in his cars.

In both 2002 and 2004, Fer­ra­ri won 15 out of 17 ra­ces u­sing Byr­ne-de­sig­ned F1 cars, a fe­at of do­mi­nan­ce that has ra­re­ly been e­qual­led in any Grand P­rix se­a­son be­fo­re or sin­ce.

To­day, Byr­ne has that 2004 c­ham­pi­ons­hip­win­ning Fer­ra­ri F1 car in his ho­me in P­hu­ket, w­he­re he now li­ves with his wi­fe. He is in­vol­ved with South A­fri­can com­pa­ny Dis­co­ve­ry In­su­re in de­sig­ning a “black box” to mo­ni­tor po­li­cy­hol­ders’ dri­ving ha­bits and to re­ward sa­fe dri­ving.

P­ho­to: Wi­ki­pe­dia P­ho­to: Car Ma­ga­zi­ne

The Byr­ne-de­sig­ned Be­net­ton-Re­nault B195. INSET: Ro­ry Byr­ne.

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