Steve Soper

Steve Soper

27/9/1952

Steve Soper raced in sports cars and touring cars at the top level for over 20 years. In 1983 he almost won the British Touring Car Championship before his Rover was deemed illegal.

Steve's father used to race and rally and this contributed to him developing an interest in motor racing at an early age. He first raced in 1971 in a Ford Escort and this marked the start of a long and successful career in saloons. After a stint in Hillman Imps, he turned to Minis, winning first title in 1977, the National Mini 1275GT Challenge. In 1979 he won the National Mini Challenge outright.

In 1980 he ambitiously entered two championships, the Ford Fiesta Challenge and, driving a Radbourne Fiat X/19, the STP Modified Sports Championship. He occasionally used a helicopter to fly between circuits to fit two races into one day. It was worth while as he won both series.

For 1981 he continued with the Fiat, winning his class in the Motoring News GT Championship at Donington, and moved from the Fiesta to a Metro to win the inaugural Metro Challenge. He received a Grovewood Award Commendation and the Donington Driver of the Year Award.

His six race wins in the Metro Challenge grabbed the attention of Austin Rover and with their support he moved up to the British Saloon Car Championship.

He took five class wins to finished third overall in the championship and second in class to Richard Longman.

1983 started well, winning his first race in a Rover Vitesse. This was followed by four more outright wins, 5 fastest laps, 2 second places, 1 third and 1 fourth on his way to what should have been victory in the British Saloon Car Championship. However after lengthy legal wrangles the Rover was deemed illegal and disqualified.

He did win the Silverstone Tourist Trophy that year, one of the world's oldest motor races. Sharing with Rene Metge, their Rover defeated the might of Jaguar and BMW in very wet conditions. It was Rover's second TT win, their first came in 1907. He also came second in class at Le Mans in a Mazda, helped develop and test Austin Rover's MG Metro Turbo and won a Grovewood Award.

In 1984 and 1985 he raced in the the European Touring Car Championship with TWR. In 1987 he won the Nurburgring 24 Hour race.

1988 he raced an Eggenberger Sierra Cosworth-BTCC in the European Touring Car Championship. He won 6 races and finished 2nd in Championship. He then switched to the German Touring Car Championship.

In 1991 he competed in both the British and German Touring Car Championships, winning three rounds of the British series.

For 1992 he again raced for BMW in German Touring Cars, claiming 2 wins, and the BTCC, finishing 6th in Championship. He also drove a BMW M3 to victory in the Spa 24 hour race. He took 3 wins in the BTCC in 1993, finishing second overall, and a single win in 1994 before switching again in 1995, this time to Japan to contest their touring car championship. That year he took his second win in the Spa 24 Hour race.

1996 saw him finish runner up in the STW Touring Car Championship before trying his hand in the FIA GT Championship the following year, once again finishing runner up. 1997 also saw a fine win driving a BMW in the Macau Touring Car Race.

In 1999 he raced for BMW Motorsport with JJ Lehto in the American Le Mans Series, winning the round at Laguna Seca in their BMW V12 LMR and setting a record for the fastest winning speed (98.387 mph). He also raced at Le Mans finishing 4th overall.

He only had one competitive outing in 2000, finishing fourth in the Sebring 12 Hours American sportscar classic.

For 2001 he made a surprise return to the British Touring Car Championship for Peugeot. The car was nowhere near as competitive as the Vauxhall Astra, but Steve still finished 6th in a thin field, however he was advised to retire on medical grounds after a heavy crash in the final round.

Steve is still involved with BMW, being one of their best dealers in the UK. 

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