Today marks the respective birthdays for former F1 driver and touring car ace Joachim Winkelhock, and Lotus reserve driver Fairuz Fauzy.
Turning 50 today, Winkelhock – nicknamed ‘Smokin’ Jo’ due to his tobacco habit – contested seven Formula 1 Grands Prix with AGS in 1989, failing to prequalify on every occasion.
The brother of the late Manfred Winkelhock and uncle to Markus, Joachim won the German Formula 3 title in 1988 before graduating to his short-lived F1 career.
Thereafter, he formed a close relationship with BMW in the field of touring cars, winning the 1990 and 1991 24 Hours Nürburgring and the 1993 British Touring Car Championship.
He went on to win the 1994 Asia Pacific Touring Car Championship and the German Supertouring Championship in 1995, as well as winning the 1995 Spa 24 Hours. His final major success came at the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he co-piloted a BMW V12 LMR with Pierluigi Martini and Yannick Dalmas.
Born in Kuala Lumpur 28 years ago, Fauzy is the second Malaysian driver – the first being Alex Yoong – to participate in a Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend, and currently occupies the role of Lotus’ test and reserve driver.
After debuting in karting in 1994, Fairuz graduated to open-wheel racing in 1999 in the British Formula Ford championship.
Fairuz didn’t have a particularly impressive pedigree in the British motorsport scene, but by 2005 he had graduated to the GP2 championship, and also represented Team Malaysia (alongside Yoong) in the A1GP series, picking up a race win in the 2008-9 season.
Indeed, it’s been in the last three years that Fairuz has hit his strides, and he peaked with a runner-up result in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship last year, finishing behind Bertrand Baguette.