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Obituary

Obituary: British F4 and Ginetta Junior racer Joel Pearson dies aged 19

Tributes have been paid to former Ginetta Junior and British Formula 4 racer Joel Pearson, who has died aged just 19 after a courageous three-year battle with cancer.

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Pearson made the switch from karts to cars partway through 2018 when he joined the Ginetta ranks, before contesting two full campaigns – taking two podiums en route to eighth in the 2020 standings.

He was then due to graduate to single-seaters in British F4 the following year with Argenti Motorsport, but had to put these plans on hold after he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in his pelvic area.

Yet the Yorkshire teenager was determined not to let his illness put a stop to his racing dreams and he continued to drive on simulators during his treatment.

He defied the odds to return to the F4 cockpit in January 2022, telling Autosport at the time: “As soon as I got on track and warmed up, everything clicked and it gave me a massive buzz.

“The motorsport community has helped me out so much. The support and kind messages from other drivers, drivers’ families, teams and fans has been overwhelming. It helps me get through it.”

He went on to drive with Chris Dittmann Racing that season as he made a brave return to competition.

Pearson scored a best result of fourth in the opening half of the year, but his campaign was curtailed after he broke his thumb in a crash at Croft and his cancer was subsequently found to have reappeared.

Pearson bravely returned to racing in 2022 in British F4

Pearson bravely returned to racing in 2022 in British F4

Photo by: JEP/Motorsport Images

As he continued to battle the effects of the disease, he got behind the wheel of Team Brit’s specially adapted hand-controlled McLaren 570S GT4 last October, along with other sportscars, but sadly Pearson was unable to race again.

“Joel lived and breathed motorsport – racing cars was all he cared about,” said his manager ex-British Touring Car driver Phil Glew, who first started working with Pearson when he joined R Racing ahead of the 2020 Ginetta Junior campaign.

“It’s just so hard to take. I enjoyed every second we spent coaching, managing and looking after his career – instantly we developed a bond with me and Joel and his family.”

Glew was amazed by the resilience Pearson showed and how he never let his illness get the better of him.

“He was a warrior – he had a picture of a bull on his helmet, which was related to the fact he’s a fighter,” said Glew. “He was always fighting.

“Our hearts go out to his family and I’m hoping the racing community comes together to remember him.”

Autosport sends sincere condolences to Pearson’s family and friends at this devastating time.

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