DRIVERS: ROLAND RATZENBERGER

Name: Roland Ratzenberger
Nationality: Austria
Date of birth: July 4, 1962 - Salzburg
Date of death: April 30, 1994 - Imola

An immensely popular and self-effacing driver who came out of Formula Ford in Austria and shot to prominence when he won the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in 1986. This led to a chance to become a BMW factory touring car driver but his efforts in single seaters were frustrated and he eventually went to Japan where he joined the Stellar team and won a Japanese Formula 3000 event at Suzuka in 1992. With the support of Barbara Behlau, a Monaco-based sports manager, Ratzenberger was able to sign a five-race deal with the new Simtek team at the start of 1994, hoping to raise money to complete the season as he went along. He qualified for the Pacific GP at Aida but at the following race at Imola was killed in a horrifying high speed crash in practice for the ill-fated San Marino Grand Prix, the day before Ayrton Senna died.

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