Autosport Awards
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Autosport Awards

Stars prepare for gala

It's Autosport Awards time again, when the biggest stars of your favourite sport turn out for international motorsport's premier gala awards this evening at London's Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane

Stars prepare for gala

Among the awards, which include International Racing Driver of the Year, Racing Car of the Year, International Rally Driver of the Year and International Rally Car of the Year, the ceremony features the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award - which is perhaps the most important accolade a young British racer can hope to win.

The International Driver of the Year Award went to then BMW Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya last year, and has in the past been held by Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg. Up for the gong this time around is seven-time world champion and previous winner Michael Schumacher, last year's British Driver of the Year Jenson Button and IRL champion Tony Kanaan.

Six young British hopefuls will be holding their breath to find out who will earn the coveted 2004 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. Perhaps the most important prize on offer on the night and certainly a key achievement on any aspiring British drivers' target list, the winner will get a test in a McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 car and receive lifetime membership of the British Racing Drivers Club.

He will also earn the right to have his name join an exclusive list of former winners that includes David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Dario Franchitti.

Among the candidates picked from the junior categories this year are 2004 Formula BMW GB champion Tim Bridgman, Formula Renault frontrunner Mike Conway, fellow Formula Renault driver Paul di Resta, 2004 Formula Palmer Audi Champion Jonathan Kennard, 2004 EuroBOSS Champion Scott Mansell and fifth-placed Formula Renault driver Susie Stoddart.

The evening will also see the introduction of a new Autosport Award sponsored by Bahrain International Circuit which recognises a company or person that has developed the most innovative product or service in motorsport. Design, engineering and technical breakthroughs as well as safety developments will be included in the award.

Autosport.com's readers will be particularly interested in the winner of this year's Rookie of the Year, having voted for it themselves on the website. Last year's winner Dan Wheldon justified your faith in him, as the young Briton went on to finish runner-up in his second season in the IRL IndyCar Series. Other previous winners include Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Webber.

This year F1's Christian Klien, IRL's Darren Manning, Champ Car drivers AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson, BTCC's Rob Huff and NASCAR's Kasey Kahne will fight it out for the website trophy.

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