Newey doubts cause of Senna crash will ever be known

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The cause of Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash in 1994 will never be truly be known, according to the man who designed the car he was driving.

Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey worked for Williams in 1994 and designed the FW16 which Senna was at the wheel of when it inexplicably veered off the track during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Senna died after his car struck a wall on the outside of the Tamburello corner and part of his front suspension penetrated his crash helmet.

A lengthy investigation after the race focused on a broken steering column as the potential cause of the crash. But Newey, who was cleared along with other Williams team members, said it was possible to know whether or not it was broken before the impact.

“The steering column failure, was it the cause, or did it happen in the accident?” said Newey in an interview with the BBC.

“There is no doubt it was cracked. Equally, all the data, all the circuit cameras, the on-board camera from Michael Schumacher’s car that was following, none of that appears to be consistent with a steering-column failure.”

Newey admitted Senna’s death “still haunts me to this day”. Williams were struggling with their car at the beginning of 1994 but ultimately got on top of the problems and won the constructors’ championship, while Senna’s team mate Damon Hill lost the drivers’ championship following a controversial collision with Schumacher.

“It just seems such a shame and so unfair he [Senna] was in that position,” reflected Newey. “And then, of course, by the time we did get the car sorted, he wasn’t with us any longer.”

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.