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Scots take the wheel in motorsport

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One of our reporters with McNish

By Shelley Queen

While our national football team may be lacking, our rugby team
frustrating to watch at times and our cycling golden boy having just
retired, life is quite hard for a Scottish sports fan.

But hope is not lost! For there is an area of sport where we have
historically done well in, and, with a certain result from Paul Di
Resta in Bahrain, we could have a promising future in too.

Scotland seems to have a particular skill in breeding great racing drivers.

Think of Scottish racing drivers, and Sir Jackie Stewart comes almost
instantly to mind.

Winning three world drivers championships from 1965 to 1973, he is not
only an icon in British racing, but in 2009 was ranked fifth in the 50
greatest Formula One drivers of all time.

But it’s not only Formula One where Scots have excelled.

In rallying, the late David Leslie and Colin McRae were some of the
sports most famous Scottish figures, with McRae becoming the first
British person to win the World Rally Championship Drivers’ Title.

The Le Mans 24 hours has also proved a popular form of racing for
Scottish drivers with Allan McNish, hailing from Dumfries, having won
two Le Mans 24 hours races and racked up six podium finishes with the
Audi team.

He says his passion for racing was started by watching David Leslie
fight for the British Rally Championship, and says that David and his
father kick started both David Coulthard and Dario Franchitti’s
passion for the sport too.

McNish began his career karting like many other drivers, and it’s
perhaps down to the number and availability of karting courses across
the country that has something to do with the Scottish legacy in
motorsport.

“There’s karting centres all over Scotland. You can go along and have
a run in a kart for five pounds – it’s less than a McDonalds. Karting
is the best way to start because it’s the cheapest form, it’s one of
the most exciting forms of the sport and you can learn and develop you
skills. Any world champion that I can think of from the past 30 years,
except oddly enough Damon Hill, started in karting. Every other
person, that’s where they cut their piece so to speak.”

And with Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley saying Paul
Di Resta could “certainly” be world champion with a better car and
package, it may be that the future could look even brighter for the
future Scottish stars of motorsport.

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