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    Rally legend Paddy Hopkirk dies aged 89

    Hopkirk grew to become synonymous with the Mini model after teaming up with the British Motor Company within the Sixties, leading to success in 1964.

    The Belfast-born driver started his skilled profession competing in circuit racing and hillclimbs in 1955, earlier than happening to win the Hewison Trophy, awarded to essentially the most profitable Irish rally driver, in three consecutive years.

    His first massive break got here in 1956 when the Normal Motor Firm supplied him a manufacturing facility drive on the prestigious RAC Rally, that he would lead briefly earlier than struggling mechanical points.

    After a spell with the Rootes Group driving a Hillman Husky and Sunbeam Rapier, Hopkirk joined BMC, the place he would turn into well-known for driving the Mini Cooper S, which helped make the automobile into an icon.

    Arguably Hopkirk’s best second of his profession was victory within the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, driving alongside Henry Liddon, piloting the now iconic #37 purple and white roofed Mini Cooper S. The win got here precisely a 12 months after first driving the automobile on the well-known alpine rally occasion. The win made him a family identify, receiving a telegram from then UK Prime Minister Alec Douglas-House.

    Hopkirk would additionally conquer the long-lasting Acropolis Rally in Greece, driving for Mini in 1967.

    In 2010 Hopkirk was amongst Timo Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Erik Carlsson as the primary inductees of the Rally Corridor of Fame, an exhibition that opened in Finland the place new inductees are introduced at every Rally Finland.

    He was elected as a life member of the British Racing Drivers Membership in 1967. He would stay distinguished within the motorsport trade, changing into vice chairman of the BRDC, earlier than changing into president from 2017-2019.

    “It’s with nice unhappiness that we share the information of the demise of BRDC Vice President and former President (2017-19) Paddy Hopkirk MBE,” learn an announcement from the BRDC.

    “We thank Paddy for his dedication & love for the Membership.

    “On behalf of the Membership we ship our love & ideas to his household at this tough time.”

    Except for rallying, Hopkirk additionally competed in circuit racing as a part of BMC’s assault on the then Bathurst 500 touring automobile race at Mount Panorama, earlier than it morphed into right this moment’s 1000 kilometre enduro. He achieved a greatest results of sixth outright and third in school, driving a Mini Cooper S alongside fellow rally driver Makinen.

    The FIA marked Hopkirk’s passing with a publish saying: “The FIA pays tribute to former Rally driver Paddy Hopkirk, who handed away on the age of 89.

    “Beginning his profession in 1955, he gained 5 Circuit of Eire & the Rallye Monte Carlo in 1964. He was member of the BRDC since 1967. Our ideas are together with his household and buddies.”

    Outdoors of motorsport, Hopkirk has turn into an idol amongst the Mini automobile house owners neighborhood that has resulted within the Northern Irishman placing his identify to automotive aftermarket merchandise for the well-known British automobile.

    Such was his affiliation with the producer, Hopkirk was additionally enlisted by BMW as a advisor for the re-launch of the Mini model in 2001. In 2016 his profession achievements have been honoured with an MBE.

    He’s survived by his spouse Jennifer and youngsters Katie, Patrick and William, and 6 grandchildren.

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