When Trollé took his sole F3000 win at the 1987 Spa-Francorchamps round, he was leading when the race was interrupted after a very nasty crash between Luis Pérez-Sala and Alfonso García de Vinuesa took place on the Raidillon. Both drivers were the most promising Spanish hotshots of their era, at a time where the Iberian country was almost completely peripheral concerning the highest levels of motor racing. After Alfonso de Portago, Spain provided just some odd entries in F1, till in 1987 Adrián Campos managed to grab a seat with Minardi, so both Pérez-Sala and de Vinuesa had real dreams of reaching F1 too. In fact, Pérez-Sala would drive and clearly outpace Campos at Minardi in 1988, but de Vinuesa seemed to vanish in the mist of history. Why? In fact, it was a life marked by such doom and tragedy that almost eclipsed his feats. Fate has never been so hard.
All of us know motor racing is dangerous…. And the number of drivers that saw their careers stopped or hampered due to serious accidents is quite high. The 1988 F3000 Championship was a good example of this, as three youngsters – Fabien Giroix, Michel Trollé and Johnny Herbert – suffered severe injuries on the usual high-attrition races of the main F1 feeder formula, and saw their careers changed forever. Trollé and Herbert were two of the biggest promises of the field, and if all we know what happened to Herbert, the Touquettois almost sank into oblivion… Time to remember and reevaluate his career.
Michel Trollé was born at Lens, on the 23rd June, 1959. His father used to drive a Renault 4 CV and then a Dauphiné on the thriving local rally scene during the fifties and sixties, so young Trollé caught the racing bug on his childhood, and as a teen used to travel – not always with permission – to nearby Belgium to see the races at Zolder. However, unlike his father, Michel always dreamt of racing and wanted to go karting, but his family found it too expensive so, while completing his studies, Trollé worked with his parents on a newshouse to raise money to buy a kart and then, first goal achieved, switched jobs to work for a friend in a restaurant. On the other hand, his friend was his mechanic… Continue reading
Wandering through the web on my researches, one theme that always captivated me were the unfulfilled promises, those men everyone said they’ll made it into F1, and by the end they just vanish on the fog, or build a career everywhere, mostly on sportscars, GT’s or cross the Atlantic to the fertile terrain of the USA racing scenario. In so many forums and pages, one name usually appeared: Richard Dallest. A Frenchman, like so many others, usually related to the small but affectionate AGS squad. And when I wrote the last piece on Patrick Gaillard, soon I saw a lot more about this man Dallest, and he can really be considered as a lost talent. But let’s travel back to Provence…
Richard Dallest came to this world in Marseille, 15th February 1951, from a middle-class family, and as far as his memory goes he was always very fond of playing with car miniatures. The southeast of France is a region known for his huge passion for motor racing, and there was a lot of racing and rallying there – even including a circuit in Parc Borely, Marseille, which hosted G.P. races between 1932 and 1952 – and, with ten, the young lad went to his first event, a hillclimb on the beautiful Provencal mountains. Meanwhile, Dallest’s father became involved on the car selling business, which surely helped the young boy to foster his interest in everything mechanical, jointly with his neighbour and close friend Gérard Bacle, slightly older than Richard and soon-to-be driver. Both teenagers did some races between themselves as soon as Dallest took his license in March of 1969, even if Richard didn’t pursue a career immediately. In fact, Dallest told Echappement Classic that he had several road accidents on his first months of driving, and only used to drive his Simca 1000 against his friend Bacle for pleasure, but gradually his passion grew on, and by 1972 he decided to switch to a Simca Rallye 1 and entered on some local hillclimbs, culminating with the Géant de Provence, the Mont Ventoux, where he won his class!! Continue reading
The F1 world was stunned when Max Verstappen was announced at Toro Rosso for the 2015 season, thus starting his first Grand Prix in Australia with the astonishing age of 17 years and 166 years, which made him by far the youngest driver ever to start a F1 race. Then FIA decided to limit the emission of a super licence to a minimum age limit of 18 years from 2016 ownards, which implies that Verstappen’s record will remain unchallenged for a very long time. Ironically, he bet the record of another driver of the Red Bull cantera, the Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari, which made his debuts with… Toro Rosso at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix with 19 years and 125 days. Amazing, isn’t it? Well, since the turn of the century, we assist to increasingly earlier debuts, barely after the end of the drivers’ teen years… Men such Jenson Button, Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso were the first wave, followed by the generation of Sebastian Vettel and, nowadays, men such as Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Esteban Ocon, all teenagers when they first entered a F1 race. However, until late nineties, it was fairly uncommon this to happen. If we look back, by the seventies and early eighties it was perfectly acceptable for a driver past their mid-twenties to debut in F1 and it didn’t mean he wasn’t good enough to be a winner. Different times, indeed. But why this so long foreword? Because Alguersuari bet the record of a driver whom so many consider the most unfulfilled promises ever… Mike Thackwell.