14 days

News Flash


Scrutineering Bay

Not that it's any of my business

Notes from the Cellar

Across the Border

Focal Point







Mail  to a friend

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Family and friends


sportscarpros CottonBalls

Michael & Andrew Cotton
Index Index
Back Back


Top of Page

David Leslie and Richard Lloyd Remembered

The telephone call on Sunday, March 30 brought devastating news; David Leslie and Richard Lloyd were feared dead following a plane crash at Farnborough. The information was confirmed, and the first news stories were written that night. On Monday it was time to start collating the tributes. They were not hard to find as both men were held in extremely high regard.

As the stories were being filed, I reflected on a link I had with the two men. In 1984 my father was due to drive Lloyd’s Porsche 956 at Silverstone and I had thumbed a lift to watch. The T-car needed a few brief laps and after a practised childhood tantrum, (“but you promised!” “No I bloody didn’t”) I was placed in the passenger seat alongside Lloyd.

Actually there was no passenger seat, so I perched on the fire extinguisher. Lloyd calmly drove the track, keeping a careful eye on this sprat next to him to make sure little hands didn’t fiddle with the brake bias, turbo boost pressure, or anything else that could surprise him when he put the hammer down.

At Monza mid-March 2008, Lloyd prowled his garage like a proud father after Leslie had just set fifth fastest time in the GT3 Jaguar XKR. After numerous press releases claiming that the car was good enough, said Lloyd, it was nice that Leslie had now proved it. Plans were hatched to promote Jaguar on the back of an expected successful season. After a faltering start, the Jaguar programme was on course to deliver on earlier promises. It was the first time since the Formula One debacle that Jaguar was returning to racing, the project kick-started by Lloyd following a chance meeting at Silverstone with Jaguar chief designer Ian Callum.

Callum, Stuart Dyble and Lloyd had helped to push the idea through the corridors of power. With the support of lawn mower mogul Harry Handkammer, who had dissuaded Lloyd from closing the doors of Apex Motorsport after two and a half lean years following the cessation of the Bentley programme in 2003, the XKR was chosen, developed, and raced in 2007. This was to be its year for international success.

A comment about how long it had taken me to get to the end of the pit lane and find him “by accident I suppose!” was typical of Lloyd, who then insisted that I put my name down for a media lap with David. Thus, I lined up with track staff carrying pencils pretending to know what was going on, waiting for him to pit. David returned his second passenger of the day with a wry smile having made a complete dogs dinner of the Ascari chicane and thought he had scared the poor girl witless, a charge she later denied.

Leslie was bedding in brakes and so was nowhere near the limit, particularly as he had failure ballast in the passenger seat in the form of a fat journo hack, but was none the less impressive, nothing less than what could be expected from a true star of the touring car world.

Leslie was a humble man who delivered cars in his spare time when not racing in the Britcar series, or commentating for Motors with Mark Cole and with Martin Haven on the WTCC for Eurosport. A trip to Le Mans with my brother-in-law two years ago reminded me of his reputation. Out to a quiet dinner on Sunday after the race, one of Donal’s work colleagues was awestruck by Leslie, who was sitting at the next table. It made his weekend to meet him.

After leaving the BTCC in 2003, Leslie slipped into commentary with ease, but he was active in all areas. Allan McNish commented that it was the Leslie family who played influential and key roles in the development of his own career, that of David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti, Mat Jackson, and that he was advising the likes of Paul di Resta. On top of this he lectured at the University of Swansea and picked up the opponents of the England cricket team as a chauffeur.

As Martin Haven pointed out, he was welcome in every pit and spent as much time collecting information as he did selecting a restaurant for dinner. “He could almost have been French!” said Haven. After a particularly unsuccessful party at the WTCC race in Porto in 2007 (we were the only guests and the promised dancing girls had failed to materialise), Dave Lister played taxi driver and gave the three of us a lift back to the hotel. The Haven- Leslie double act was in full swing, with alcohol on board to liven things up. Haven set up his commentary partner, who delivered the final lines with precision. Lister’s sense of direction was the target and while he still maintains it was further but quicker, it was a long 20 minutes for our snapper who, to his credit, didn’t kick us out despite numerous threats.

During the races, Haven was the motor mouth of the two, Leslie quietly sat at the back of the studio working out point scores as the race developed and offering carefully measured opinions with the style of Martin Brundle but without the drama.

Sunday’s accident has cost the motorsport fraternity two accomplished professionals, and their presence will be sorely missed at race tracks around the World.

Andrew Cotton, April 2008