SCOTLAND’S Allan McNish has paid tribute to Sean Edwards, one of Britain’s leading sports car drivers who was killed in an accident in Australia.
As a passenger in a Porsche 996, Edwards died when the car – being driven by a 20-year-old from Brisbane – burst into flames upon hitting a barrier at the Queensland Raceway in Willowbank. It is understood Edwards was taking part in the second day of a two- day coaching session for young drivers at the race track.
The driver survived the crash, but is being treated in a local hospital having sustained severe injuries and burns.
In his last post on Twitter Edwards said: “Time to hit Queensland Raceway today, should be fun, hope there aren’t too many kangaroos like at Bathurst!” – a reference to Australia’s premier endurance auto racing event last weekend.” Edwards had also recently posted on social media that he was involved in the production of the Ron Howard-directed movie Rush, which was set during the 1976 F1 season. The 26-year-old was the son of former F1 driver Guy Edwards, who is renowned for pulling Niki Lauda from the wreckage of his burning Ferrari following the Austrian’s crash at the Nurburgring in 1976.
Edwards was leading this year’s Porsche Supercup standings, a series which supports Formula One at a number of grands prix, with a double header looming in Abu Dhabi next month to conclude the campaign.
Three-times Le Mans 24 Hours winner McNish said: “I knew his father initially from his sponsorship days, so I have followed Sean’s career a wee bit closer than you would normally.
The tragedy of it is he was leading the Supercup championship after such strong performances through the middle of the year. It looked like he was going to win. Also, having won the Nurburgring 24 Hours this year (with Mercedes), I would say this was probably his strongest year in racing.
“To win that, with all the German manufacturers, and the powerhouse of European motorsport outside of Formula One, then that’s a big, big deal.
“He also won the Porsche Supercup race in Monaco this year by 20 seconds, which is unheard of in a one-make-spec championship.
“So this was a breakthrough year for him. He was showing what talent he had, but had maybe never had the opportunity to actually display it.
“Apart from that, he was a guy who loved life, loved racing, loved cycling, was strong and fit. He was just a really nice young guy who was making his mark on the sport, and socially a really good guy to be around.”
In a statement, the Motor Sports Association said it was “shocked and saddened” by Edwards’ death.
The statement added: “Sean was a hugely promising young racer who came through the junior formulas in Britain, before making a career in international sportscar racing. He is leading the 2013 Porsche Supercup championship, and had won both the Nurburgring and Dubai 24 Hours this year.
“The MSA extends its deepest sympathies to Sean’s family, friends and fans at this difficult time.”
Via Twitter, former F1 star David Coulthard wrote: “Shocking news about Sean Edwards’ passing, top man and super talented racer, condolences to his nearest and dearest.”
In light of his victories for Mercedes this year at the Nurburgring and in Dubai, via their F1 twitter feed the German manufacturing giant wrote: “We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sean Edwards.
“We were proud to have him as a member of the Mercedes-Benz family following his Nurburgring 24 Hours win earlier this year. RIP.”
Edwards started his racing career back in 2003 in Formula Ford, going on to compete in Formula Renault UK, British GT, the FIA GT3 Championship – which he won in 2006 – before embarking on his Porsche Supercup career from 2008.