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• Nigel Mansell CBE leads a host of motorsport stars today at Autosport International, Europe’s premier pre-season motorsport show
• The 1992 F1 World Champion opened the show in front of huge crowds and took to the Autosport Stage regaling the audience with stories from his long racing career
• Other star appearances came from Darren Turner, Karun Chandhok, Jamie Chadwick and Enaam Ahmed
• See all the Autosport Stage interviews live here: http://bit.ly/2DbHhhe
• Autosport International is part of Motorsport Network’s UK title, Autosport – one of the world’s leading print and online motorsport publishers
• Tickets still available: http://www.autosportinternational.com/book-tickets

Nigel Mansell CBE has been the star attraction at Autosport International, opening the show to a packed crowd and regaling visitors to the Autosport Stage with stories from his long career.

F1 World Champion in 1992 and IndyCar Cart Champion in 1993, Mansell is one of the most-loved British racing drivers in history. Having started his career in Formula Ford, Mansell entered F1 in 1980 with Lotus, mentored by the legendary Colin Chapman.

“Colin was like a second father to me,” Mansell explained. “I was a qualified engineer so we spoke the same language. He was such a marvellous man, very charismatic and so clever. It was a huge shame that he died so young, I would have certainly stayed at Lotus otherwise.

Although it was a Williams’ FW14B that took him to his F1 World Championship win, Mansell’s favourite F1 cars were the fearsome turbocharged machines of the Eighties. “You had upwards of 1,500bhp, wheelspin in sixth gear at 170mph+. They were absolute beasts, always trying to throw you off the circuit.

“The turbo lag was so much that you could count one, two, three before the power chimed in. If it came in before you wanted it, you would spin off into the wall.”

The last F1 driver to be personally signed by Enzo Ferrari, Mansell entered the 1990 season with a fast but unreliable car and did not expect to finish the first race. “John Barnard had done a fantastic job with that car but the semi-automatic gearbox was letting us down. It was incredible to win in Rio, just a miracle. It took us another six or seven races to finish the full distance.

“The generosity of the Ferrari team was fantastic,” Mansell told the audience. “They wanted me to help develop the Testarossa road car. I drove it on the circuit and told the engineers to soften the front suspension. Two weeks later a brand new Testarossa arrived on my drive.”

Other star names on the Autosport Stage were works Aston Martin Racing drivers Darren Turner and Jonny Adam plus ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok. There were stars of tomorrow too, with British F3’s Jamie Chadwick – the first ever female and youngest winner of the British GT Championship – alongside 2017 British F3 Champion Enaam Ahmed.

In the 60th year of the BTCC, fans of saloon car racing were treated to a selection of current and historic machinery from the championship’s past in Hall 6 (Stand 6740). Five BTCC champions – Ashley Sutton, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden, Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan – were in attendance to join in the celebrations.

The 2018 HMS Racing Alfa Romeo and the Power Maxed Racing cars have been taking pride of the place over the course of the four-day show, along with the Motorbase Ford Focus. The feature is also playing host to a selection of historic BTCC racers from the series’ past, including the legendary Rover SD1 raced by Steve Soper in 1983, an Alfa 155 which took Gabriele Tarquini to championship glory in 1994 and a Lotus Cortina.

Over at the Coys auction, there was a stunning mix of road and race cars going under the hammer. Highlights of the sale included a 1993 Ferrari F40 Michelotto LM Specification (it sold for £850,000), a 2005 Mercedes CLK DTM (one of only 40 RHD examples, it sold for £200,000), a 1996 Porsche 993 Turbo X50 (£150,000), a 1975 Ferrari 365 GT4/BB (£270,000) and a 1957 Austin A35 HRDC Race Car, recently driven by Sir Chris Hoy at Goodwood (£24,000).

Throughout the weekend, visitors can feast their eyes on a mouth-watering line-up of Ferrari competition cars, as part of a very special Ferrari centrepiece feature. The line-up includes the 2017 F1 car, the SF70H, to the 2004 championship-winning F2004, 2017 LMGTE Pro World Endurance Championship-winning AF Corse 488 GTE, FXX-K Evo and the 488 Challenge cars, all of which are available through Ferrari’s Corse Clienti programme.

Visitors of all ages can see a range of powerful machines and skilled drivers putting on a thrilling show of drifting, precision car control and nail-biting stunts in the Live Action Arena, which today included a surprise appearance from Emanuele Pirro.

Highlights include NASCAR and Billy Monger, joining the Mission Motorsport team in a fleet of specially-adapted Jaguar F-Types. Billy joined Nigel Mansell on the Autosport Stage for a special appearance. “When I raced for Ferrari, they called me ‘Il Leone’, the Lionheart. Well, you are the young Lionheart Billy,” Mansell said.

Tomorrow – Sunday January 14th – is the final day of Autosport International and will feature more appearances from Mansell alongside a host of other famous names.

Autosport International is part of Motorsport Network’s UK title, Autosport – one of the world’s leading print and online motorsport publishers.

Motorsport Network is the world’s largest independent automotive and motorsport-related digital platform, connecting millions of people who love motorsport and cars. The network also creates key industry events including Autosport International and the annual Autosport Awards.

Tickets are still available for Autosport International’s final day at the Birmingham NEC tomorrow. To buy tickets, head to http://www.autosportinternational.com/public.

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