When a shove from Alain Menu despatched Kelvin Burt’s Volvo 850 thundering into the Cascades earth financial institution within the 1996 British Touring Car Championship spherical at Oulton Park, leaving the 1993 British Formula 3 champion closely concussed, Tom Walkinshaw Racing wanted a alternative driver for the subsequent spherical at Snetterton.

Fortunately it had a ready-made candidate within the type of its Formula 3 rising star Jamie Davies, however the 1994 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner by no means made it to the beginning line after a puncture induced the largest accident of his profession in a pre-event check.

Using the Vauxhall-Speiss engine with which Oliver Gavin had gained the 1995 British F3 title, Davies had made a flying begin to the 1996 season with TWR’s new F3 arm by profitable two of the primary three races. But the 12 months went downhill thereafter when the squad made the fateful choice to take engine improvement in-house, leaving Davies distinctly unimpressed with the end result – “they absolutely destroyed the thing” – and tumbling down the pecking order.

But his early season kind had been sufficient to persuade TWR that it want look no additional whereas Burt recovered, and it was deliberate that Davies would fill in at Snetterton.

With his solely earlier tin-top expertise coming in a rear-wheel-drive Schnitzer BMW that he’d track-tested for Autosport on the Nurburgring the earlier 12 months, Davies had no actual reference for the front-drive 850. Whereas the BMW “responded in a very similar way to a single-seater, you could be quite smooth with the car and carry a lot of corner speed”, he discovered the Volvo particularly nervous in his first check at Silverstone.

“I was able to wring a laptime out of it and be fairly quick straight away, but in terms of it feeling comfortable, they were quite tricky cars to drive,” says Davies, who beat the likes of Richard Westbrook, Jonny Kane and Peter Dumbreck to the 1994 MABA prize.

“Being front-wheel-drive, it was very tough to generate tyre temperature on the rears. It was very edgy, I had conditions the place you’ll flip into the nook and it might begin pivoting across the entrance, the rear feeling very insecure.

“But saying that, it was quick! It had a good front end and providing you had the correct tyre temperature, and the correct set-up, it worked very well and it was obviously a very competitive car and satisfying when you did a quick lap.”

Come the Snetterton check, Davies was constructing confidence within the automobile when his left-rear tyre deflated on the strategy to the quick Riches right-hander on the finish of the pit straight. He tried to catch the slide and maintain the automobile on the highway, however to no avail. He hit the ploughed area sideways, tossing the Volvo right into a sequence of rolls during which he was knocked unconscious.

“I woke up in the car with an oxygen mask on, a brace all down my back and a drip in my hand while they were moving me from the car – it was a pretty big one!” he says.

Due to the severity of influence, a few of the reminiscences of the crash stay hazy. But Davies reckons his touring automobile inexperience exacerbated the incident, as he nonetheless retained the mindset from single-seaters of making an attempt to maintain the automobile on observe in any respect prices.

“You put a single-seater in the gravel and you’re in the pits for an hour while they’re cleaning all the crap out of it,” explains Davies. “But if I had simply steered it to the sector and are available to a halt, then they might have introduced it again to the pits, sorted out the tyres, given it a dust-off and off we might have gone. It was the actual fact my single-seater mind was pondering, ‘try and keep it on the track’ that I used to be nonetheless correcting the slide.

“As I went through the corner, I was opposite lock, full-throttle. But they’re so low and so tight in the wheel-arches that there’s only a limited amount of steering lock that you get and it was nowhere near enough lock to be able to do anything about it.”

The automobile was written off, and with Burt’s chassis additionally unsalvageable, there was no spare for Davies to race that weekend. Burt was match sufficient for the subsequent race and Davies headed again to F3, destined by no means to race within the BTCC, though he would construct a sportscar profession following a race-winning stint in Formula 3000 that yielded the Le Mans Series title in 2004 and second general in that 12 months’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

“It was a shame because I can still remember now, I was P4 before I went off which is I guess pretty good for a rookie jumping in,” says Davies, who right now runs the household machining enterprise, Turnspeed.

“At the time, I used to be so centered on single-seaters, it by no means even entered my head that I may do a profession in touring automobiles. It wasn’t one thing I checked out as a result of Formula 1 was my objective and all of my focus was stepping into that course.

“It’s one of those things that perhaps later in life you can look at it and go, ‘I could have done something there’, but at the time when you’re younger and you’ve got that focus, you don’t see that.”


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