Talented racer followed in his father's tracks
Tributes have been pouring in from across the globe for British professional race driver Sean Edwards, who died, aged 26, in a crash on an Australian racetrack earlier this week.
As a passenger in a Porsche 996, the promising Edwards was killed when the car burst into flames on hitting a barrier at the Queensland Raceway in Willowbank.
One of Britain's best drivers, Edwards had been leading the 2013 Porsche Supercup championship, with wins at the Nurburgring and Dubai 24 Hours events earlier this year.
He was born in London on December 6, 1986, the son of Formula One racing driver Guy Edwards.
FREE WHEATGERM WITH EVERY POND HEATER www.blagdon-water-gardens.c...View details
Protect your pond fish this winter. Purchase the resun 100w pond heater £39.99 from www.blagdon-water-gardens.co.uk and we will give you a pot of Tetra wheatgerm 1l winter fishfood worth £4.99 FREE
Contact: 01934 316673
Valid until: Friday, February 28 2014
He started racing at the age of 11, taking part in karting competitions. After gaining fourth place in the 2003 British Formula Ford Championship, he gained a fifth spot in the 2004 Formula Renault UK, and came fifth in the 2005 British GT Championship.
Moving to Monaco, he then undertook drives in various years of the FIA GT3 European Championship, the Porsche Supercup (latterly with Team Allyouneed) and the American Le Mans Series (with MOMO NGT Motorsport). In May this year he won the Nurburgring 24 Hours, his first major victory in endurance racing, driving a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 alongside Bernd Schneider, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Nicki Thiim.
One of the first professional racing drivers to embrace Sim racing as a means of development and training, in 2012 he assisted with the racing scenes in Ron Howard's film Rush, about the battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1976 Formula One season. The younger Edwards also portrayed his father Guy in several scenes of the film, the latter being among the drivers who pulled Lauda from the burning wreckage of his Formula One racing car during the 1976 German Grand Prix.
The Monaco-based driver was taking part in the second day of a two-day coaching session for young drivers at the racetrack. He had spoken about his excitement to be in Australia just days before the tragedy unfolded.
"First time to Aus, have heard great thing (sic) so looking forward to my two days there," Edwards had posted to Facebook on Saturday.
The outpouring of grief from hundreds of fellow drivers and fans showed how much the incident had rocked the motor sports community.
Former F1 star David Coulthard said on Twitter: "Top man and super talented racer, condolences to his nearest and dearest."
New Zealand V8 Supercars driver Scott McLaughlin said the crash was a stark reminder for all drivers.
"Our sport is dangerous, we are very lucky to be still here telling a tale. RIP, Sean Edwards," he tweeted.
Three-times Le Mans 24 Hours winner Allan McNish – as reported in the Western Daily Press earlier this week – said he had followed Edwards' career from the beginning, having been close to his father. McNish said the incident was even more tragic given it came when Edwards was just reaching his full potential.
"This was a breakthrough year for him," he said. "He was showing what talent he had, but had maybe never had the opportunity to actually display it. Apart from that, he was a guy who loved life, loved racing, loved cycling, was strong and fit. He was just a really nice young guy who was making his mark on the sport, and socially a really good guy to be around."
Porsche Head of Motorsport, Hartmut Kristen, said in a statement from Germany: "Our thoughts are with his family and we want to express our deepest condolences to his relatives."
The UK's motor sports' governing body also offered its condolences to the young star's family, friends and fans.
"Sean was a hugely promising young racer who came through the junior formulas in Britain, before making a career in international sports car racing," the Motor Sports Association said in a statement.
Edwards' father is renowned for pulling Niki Lauda from the wreckage of his burning Ferrari following the Austrian's crash at the Nurburgring in 1976. Edwards had actually played his father in the recent Hollywood blockbuster Rush, which depicted the rivalry between Lauda and James Hunt.
There were only two races left in the Porsche Supercup Championship series, which Edwards was leading.
His mother paid tribute to her son in the London Evening Standard. Daphne McKinley said: "It was just such a shock to have it happen in that way. You expect it on the track, but not in that way, I believe it was the last corner of the track and the session. It's a mother's worst nightmare. It's what you never want to happen, for your children to die before you. The loss to us is unfathomable.
"I used to go to all his races and we were very, very close. I haven't just lost a son, I have lost a great friend. He was an inspiration. He was just an extraordinary, intelligent and wonderfully talented young man who was loved by everyone. Wherever he went he lit up everything."
Ms McKinley told the Standard it was thought that the car shot off the track because the throttle became stuck. She said witnesses had seen brake lights, indicating they were working and not the problem, but an investigation has been launched.
Ms McKinley told the Standard: "I said to him just a few days before 'why are you going to Australia to do a lesson? You are winning the championship. You don't need to go'. And he said, 'well mum, I love mentoring'.
"He loved bringing on young drivers though the ranks, and he died doing it."
Edwards, the current Porsche Supercup Championship leader, began learning to drive at the age of three in go-karts at an indoor track in Battersea near where he grew up. It became his passion after he found it hard to study with dyslexia and an attention deficit disorder.