Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Special feature

Friday favourite: The underrated Briton who became a Stateside star

John Fitzpatrick's driving career spanned two decades, during which he raced with some of the world's top sportscar and touring car drivers. But the man he picks instead as his favourite team-mate, in the latest instalment of Autosport's Friday Favourite series, is remembered as much today for his punditry as his racing

#79 John Fitzpatrick Racing, Porsche 935/78-81: John Fitzpatrick,  David Hobbs

#79 John Fitzpatrick Racing, Porsche 935/78-81: John Fitzpatrick, David Hobbs

Motorsport Images

John Fitzpatrick is one of the unsung heroes of touring car and sportscar racing, with a British Touring Car title, European GT and IMSA crowns, and wins at Daytona, Sebring and Bathurst to his name, not to mention a successful racing team. So it’s appropriate that he picks another underrated Briton as his best team-mate: David Hobbs.

Hobbs started six world championship grands prix, contested the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s, scored class wins at Le Mans, and took titles in Formula 5000 and Trans-Am. When Fitzpatrick set up his eponymous team in 1981, Hobbs was near the top of his list.

“I had a lot of terrific co-drivers, like Derek Bell, but the one that stands out is David,” explains Fitzpatrick.

PLUS: The untold story of the BTCC’s youngest champion

“First of all, he was great company in the team, easy-going. When I decided to run my own team, I knew him – and I had it in mind to have him drive with me.

“The team loved him and we liked the same sort of set-up. He’d go out after I’d been in the car and wouldn’t want to change a thing.

“Secondly, David was also a very fast driver. There was nothing between us and he’d done quite a lot of endurance racing so he knew how to look after the car.

“The personal factor is more important than pure speed and we weren’t trying to outdo each other. Sometimes co-drivers can be more obsessed with being quicker than they are with finishing the race, which isn’t what you need.”

John Fitzpatrick picks David Hobbs as his best team-mate in terms of pure speed and teamwork

John Fitzpatrick picks David Hobbs as his best team-mate in terms of pure speed and teamwork

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

One of the most memorable races for the duo was the 1982 Le Mans 24 Hours. Driving one of the modified John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 935s they won the IMSA GTX class and were only beaten by Porsche’s new Group C wondercar, the 956.

PLUS: The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era

“That race stands out,” says Fitzpatrick. “We finished fourth in the special Porsche 935 ‘Moby Dick’ copy, behind the three works 956s. That was really satisfying.

“David is unsung over here. He is far better known in the States, where he’s been a TV personality for years, than he is in Europe. He did a lot more over there.”

"The personal factor is more important than pure speed and we weren’t trying to outdo each other" John Fitzpatrick

One other driver gets a mention from Fitzpatrick: “When David couldn’t drive at the 1983 Brands Hatch 1000Km because he was doing Trans-Am – he won the title – I asked Derek Warwick. He’d done Spa for another team [Kremer] and done very well.

“He was nice and had no ego. He was terrific to drive with and was incredibly fast, particularly at the start in the rain.”

Fitzpatrick and Hobbs won the IMSA GTX class at the 1982 Le Mans 24 Hours together, only beaten by a trio of Porsche 956s

Fitzpatrick and Hobbs won the IMSA GTX class at the 1982 Le Mans 24 Hours together, only beaten by a trio of Porsche 956s

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Be part of Autosport community

Join the conversation

Related video

Previous article NASCAR Next Gen “has to have hybrid” for Le Mans 24H entry, says ACO
Next article Friday favourite: The ultimate Group C turbo car that missed its main objective

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe