Bertrand Gachot

Bertrand Gachot

23/12/1963

Gachot was the son of a French European Commission official. He began karting at the relatively old age of 15. In 1983, he attended the famous French University Winfield School. He dropped out to begin his racing career. Gachot assiduously built his career to reach his goal of racing in a front-running Formula 1 team, only to throw it away with a moment of madness when an assault on a London taxi-driver after a traffic altercation left him facing imprisonment. Brilliantly successful in Formula Ford, winning the major British 1600 title in 1985 and the 2000 crown the following year after a torrid battle with Mark Blundell, Bertrand graduated to the British F3 championship with West Surrey Racing for 1987 and emerged as runner-up after another no-holds-barred battle, this time with Johnny Herbert. A solid 1988 season in F3000 lacked only a win and he finished fifth overall, quickly tying up a deal to race for the newly formed Onyx Grand Prix team in 1989. It was not a happy season for Gachot who, having been overshadowed by the experienced Johansson, found himself replaced by J J Lehto. Taking his sponsorship money to Rial for a couple more unproductive outings, Gachot then plunged into a disastrous 1990 season with the Coloni-Subaru. Then came the big break with Eddie Jordan's fledgling F1 team, whose new Gary Anderson-designed car was a revelation. Suddenly Gachot was really racing and showing his undoubted talent - until his shock incarceration. His drive with Jordan was lost but, undaunted, he bounced back with the struggling Larrousse team. Bertrand's F1 career was on hold in 1993 - although he made a good Indy Car debut at Toronto - while he finalised plans to lead Pacific's Grand Prix challenge in 1994. Bertrand had worked ceaselessly to help find sponsorship for the team and it must have been doubly hard for him to realise that the PR01 was a substandard car which had no prospects of improvement. Although the sparser grids in 1995 guaranteed that Pacific would at least be starting races, their second Grand Prix challenger proved no great step forward from the first, depite being a totally new design. As the team's financial situation worsened Gachot stood down to allow pay drivers Lavaggi and Deletraz to provide a cash lifeline, but he did return for the last three races to see out the season. Given Pacific's previous track record of excellence in other formulae, there was plenty of sympathy for their hapless plight, but there is no room for sentiment in F1 and the team followed Simtek into liquidation. For Keith Wiggins and Bertrand Gachot, a dream was over. Gachot competed in a total of 47 grand prix for eight different teams. He never won a race, but he did score five championship points during his F1 career, and even recorded the fastest lap of the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix for Jordan.

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