Thierry Boutsen

Thierry Boutsen

13/7/1957

Formula One driver who raced for the Arrows, Benetton, Williams, Ligier and Jordan teams.

Thierry went to the Pilette racing school where he became a star pupil and set out on a Formula Ford career in 1977. In 1978 the young Belgian raced a Crosslé in the Benelux countries, winning 15 of his 18 races, which brought him to the attention of his boyhood idol Jacky Ickx.

For 1979 he moved to Formula 3 with help from Ickx, winning three races in 1980 and second place in the title, behind Michele Alboreto.

In 1981 he moved to Formula 2 and was again second in the championship, this time behind Geoff Lees.

In 1983 he drove in the European Touring Car Championship and in the World Sportscar races, where he won at Monza with Bob Wollek. In 1983 he bought for $500,000 a Formula 1 cockpit for his debut with Arrows at the 1983 Belgian Grand Prix but his real opportunity came when he drove for Benetton in 1987.

In 1989 Frank Williams signed him for a two-year contract in which he won the rain-soaked 1989 Canadian Grand Prix and Australian Grand Prix.

In 1990 he got a victory in the Hungarian GP over his friend Ayrton Senna's McLaren-Honda. In 1991 he moved to Ligier and from there to Jordan in 1993, after which he retired from Formula 1.

In 1994 and 1995, Thierry competed in the German Super Touring championship, but his Ford Mondeo was unable to challenge the dominance of Audi and BMW. At Le Mans in 1995 he shared the sixth-place Kremer K8-Porsche with Hans Stuck and Christophe Bouchut.

In 1996 he returned to sports cars paired in a works Porsche 911 GT1 with Stuck. After a second place at Le Mans, they won at Brands Hatch and Spa. Although eight top-six finishes were achieved in 1997, no victories were forthcoming, and they were both dropped from the works team.

Boutsen then went to the States in 1998 to race a Porsche 911 GT1 in selected US GT championship events, and also drove Toyota’s Le Mans challenger, the GT-One. He returned in 1999 to race the GT-One again, however it nearly ended in dissaster when he was punted into the barriers by a back-marker. Suffering from cracked vertebrae in his back, he decided it was time to call it a day and retired to spend more time with his second wife and young family, and concentrate on his aviation business, Boutsen Aviation, in Monaco.

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