The underrated Briton who became a star in the US
John Fitzpatrick is one of the unsung heroes of touring car and sports car racing, with a British Touring Car title, European GT and IMSA crowns, and victories at Daytona, Sebring and Bathurst to his name, not to mention a successful racing team. So it’s only fitting that he picks another underrated Briton as his best team-mate: David Hobbs.
Hobbs started six world championship grands prix, contested the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s, scored class wins at Le Mans, and won Formula 5000 and Trans-Am titles. When Fitzpatrick created his eponymous team in 1981, Hobbs was at the top of the list.
“I’ve had a lot of great co-drivers, like Derek Bell, but the one that stands out is David,” says Fitzpatrick.
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“First of all, he was a great company in the team, easy going. When I decided to lead my own team, I knew him and I had in mind to have him drive with me.
“The team liked him and we liked the same kind of setup. He would come out after I was in the car and wouldn’t want to change anything.
“Secondly, David was also a very fast driver. There was nothing between us and he had done quite a bit of endurance racing so he knew how to take care of the car.
“The personal factor is more important than pure speed and we weren’t trying to outdo ourselves. Sometimes co-drivers can be more obsessed with speed than finishing the race, which is not what you need.
John Fitzpatrick picks David Hobbs as his best teammate in terms of sheer speed and teamwork
Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport footage
One of the duo’s most memorable races was the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driving one of John Fitzpatrick Racing’s modified Porsche 935s, they won the IMSA GTX class and were beaten only by the new wonder from Porsche’s Group C, the 956.
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“This race stands out,” says Fitzpatrick. “We finished fourth in the special Porsche 935 ‘Moby Dick’, behind the three factory 956s. It was really satisfying.
“David is unknown here. He is much better known in the United States, where he has been a television personality for years, than he is in Europe. He did a lot more there.
“The personal factor is more important than pure speed and we weren’t trying to outdo ourselves” John Fitzpatrick
Another driver gets a mention from Fitzpatrick: “When David couldn’t drive the 1000km at Brands Hatch in 1983 because he was doing Trans-Am – he won the title – I asked Derek Warwick . He had done Spa for another team [Kremer] and very well done.
“He was nice and had no ego. He was great to drive and was incredibly fast, especially at the start in the rain.
Fitzpatrick and Hobbs won the IMSA GTX class together at the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans, only beaten by a trio of Porsche 956s
Photo by: Motorsport footage