LONDON, ENGLAND, February 13, 2002 - KL Minardi Asiatech team boss, Paul Stoddart, yesterday evening proudly accepted a prestigious Bernie Award at the glittering, annual pre-season Grand Prix Party held at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the...
LONDON, ENGLAND, February 13, 2002 - KL Minardi Asiatech team boss, Paul Stoddart, yesterday evening proudly accepted a prestigious Bernie Award at the glittering, annual pre-season Grand Prix Party held at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Brain and Spine Foundation. The equivalent of Hollywood's Oscars, the Bernies recognise the previous Formula One season's greatest characters and performers, as well as those who have shown exceptional dedication to the sport during their careers.
Stoddart, owner of the European Aviation group of companies and a lifelong motor racing aficionado, stepped in to save the struggling Minardi team last January after it ran into financial difficulties. In the space of a year, he turned the squad around, launching it on a five-year quest for improved competitiveness that is intended to see the Anglo-Italian organisation power its way up the Grand Prix grid. Stoddart's unbridled enthusiasm and unstinting efforts this past season won him a Bernie for "Outstanding Contribution in 2001" to the sport of Formula One motor racing.
Commenting on receiving the Bernie, Stoddart said, "This has to be seen not so much as a personal award as an endorsement of the efforts of the whole of the Minardi team in 2001. It has been said before, but to have built last year's car in six weeks and three days in order to make the first race of the season, in Melbourne, was nothing short of a miracle, and that miracle wouldn't have happened without the most amazing effort from everyone involved. It is something I shall never forget, and all of those involved deserve a huge vote of thanks.
"The Minardi organisation has made great progress in the last 12 months, and we intend that that momentum will continue in order to establish this as a team whose cars are capable of challenging consistently for upper mid-grid positions, or better, at every Grand Prix.
"From a personal standpoint, I want to acknowledge the man after whom this statue is named: Bernie Ecclestone. Without Bernie, there is no doubt in my mind that the sport of Formula One as we know it simply wouldn't exist, and people like me certainly wouldn't have the opportunity to win awards like this. Thank you, Bernie."
Stoddart's pleasure at the evening's events became even greater when a ride in one of the team's two-seater Formula One cars raised a staggering £35,000 during a charity auction following the awards ceremony. The successful bidder for the European Minardi F1x2 passenger ride was none other than Jonathan Frost, the Monaco-based British businessman who last year outbid other guests for a chance to ride with Nigel Mansell at the team's inaugural Thunder in the Park Day at Donington. As a result of his continuing generosity, Frost has guaranteed himself what is certain to be another starring role, this time in Thunder in the Park 2, on August 10-11.