The Michael Park 'Beef' Trophy is awarded annually in memory of Michael Park, who died in a tragic accident during Wales Rally GB in 2005 while co-driving for his long-term partner Markko Märtin.
Michael is much missed by the entire World Rally Championship (WRC) community. To perpetuate his memory a group of friends and colleagues - inspired by Vincent Laverne - commissioned the trophy.
The bronze bust was created by French artist François Chevalier and was donated to Michael’s wife, Marie, and children, William and Victoria.
Each season a smaller replica trophy is awarded to a WRC co-driver who has best demonstrated the overall qualities associated with Michael during his career, taking into account overall performances, attitude, commitment and other specific actions or achievements.
The decision is made by a jury selected from the WRC community. In 2006 the trophy was presented to Daniel Elena from Monaco. In 2007 it was awarded to Finland’s Timo Rautiainen, in 2008 to Denis Giraudet of France, in 2009 to Jarmo Lehtinen from Finland and in 2010 to Phil Mills from Wales.
For 2011 the jury comprised Paul Turner (Michael Park’s manager), Robert Reid and Vincent Laverne. They had to choose between five nominated co-drivers: Ilka Minor (Austria), Daniel Elena (Monaco), Julien Ingrassia (France), Kuldar Sikk (Estonia) and Miikka Anttila (Finland).
We are pleased to announce that in 2011 Austria’s Ilka Minor has been chosen as the sixth winner of the Michael Park ‘Beef’ Trophy.
Ilka, 36, first drove in the World Rally Championship in 1997 and has been a regular competitor for the past eight years, first with Manfred Stohl and more recently with Henning Solberg in the M-Sport Stobart Ford team.
She is quite literally married to the sport, as her husband is a rally engineer.
After accompanying a variety of drivers in the European Championship, Ilka teamed up with Stohl in 2003 to form one of the most successful privateer driving partnerships of the past few years.
Together they rose through the ranks in a variety of privateer cars and in 2005 were the top non-works finishers in the drivers’ standings in ninth place.
In 2006 the pair contested the WRC in a Peugeot 307 and finished the season fourth, again the highest placed private drivers. Minor remained with Stohl when he switched to a Citroen Xsara in 2007 where they again finished ninth.
At the end of the season Stohl stepped back from competition, but Minor continued to work on WRC events as part of Henning Solberg’s safety note crew. She was a natural choice to partner the Norwegian when he wanted a new co-driver for 2010.
A back injury sustained in a crash alongside Stohl on an Austrian championship event forced her to skip the season-closing rallies but she made a full recovery to again partner Solberg in 2011. They currently lie ninth in the championship, with a best result of fifth in Greece.
"Ilka competed directly against Michael for a number of years and he always had a great deal of respect for her as a co-driver and a friend," said Turner.
"She is a modest and unassuming co-driver who goes about her business in a low profile but utterly professional way, traits which were, of course, true of Michael as well. I know that he would absolutely approve of the decision to present her with this prestigious award today in Wales,” he added.
Ilka was presented with the trophy by Paul Turner in front of Ford and M-Sport media guests and friends at Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Happy Hour reception in the Wales Rally GB service park at Builth Wells on Wednesday 9 November.