Ex-F1 racer Pirro makes motorbike racing debut at Goodwood

The 62-year-old Italian contested the Hailwood Trophy for 250cc and 350cc two-stroke grand prix and Formula 750 motorcycles that raced up to 1983. He qualified the Michael Russell-entered Yamaha TZ250 20th in the 34-bike field, 9.7 seconds off pole.

The Le Mans winner of 2000-02 and 2006-07, who recently left his role managing the McLaren young driver programme, ran 20th in race one on Saturday prior to a red flag when Alan Cathcart fell. Pirro lost places after the restart, but moved forward as his pace improved.

He crossed the line 18th overall, 10th in class.

“Every metre I’m learning something,” said Pirro, who started 37 world championship Formula 1 races between 1989 and 1991.

“It’s incredibly exciting. I’ve never ridden with people around me so I was a bit nervous at the start.

“I had massive respect for riders before doing it and now I have even more.”

The tightly contested race was won by Phil Atkinson’s Yamaha as the top three were covered by just 0.423s in a dash to the line.

Pirro is scheduled to contest the second, seven-lap, race on Sunday morning. The overall results will be decided by an aggregate of the two heats.

Emanuele Pirro, Dallara BMS-191 Judd.

Emanuele Pirro, Dallara BMS-191 Judd.

Photo by: Ercole Colombo

Most of the races for the 81st MM take place on Sunday.

Three-time Le Mans class winner Darren Turner qualified on pole for the Ken Miles Cup for Ford Mustangs in Craig Davies’ example, against a quality field that includes Andrew Jordan, Rob Huff, Gordon Shedden, Jake Hill and Dario Franchitti.

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Alex Buncombe will start the Graham Hill Trophy for pre-1967 closed-cockpit GTs and prototypes from pole in an AC Cobra.

Ten-time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger also demonstrated the Ferrari 640 he used in six F1 races in 1989.

“When we finished, we finished in good positions, but we didn’t usually finish!” said the 64-year-old Austrian, who only saw the chequered flag three times in his 15 starts in 1989 but did win the Portuguese GP at Estoril.

Niki Lauda’s career is also being celebrated at Goodwood, with Chris Goodwin demonstrating the McLaren MP4/2B that the Austrian drove in his final F1 season in 1985.

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