While Force India test driver Nico Hülkenberg celebrates his 24th birthday today, it is also the birthday of former Grand Prix driver – and Geoff Willis doppelgänger – Oscar Larrauri.
Nicknamed ‘Poppy’ by his peers, this Argentine forged a successful career in his homeland, but found the going comparatively tougher when he moved Europe in 1979, eventually enjoying success when he joined the top-line Pavanello Euroracing F3 team in 1982. He took seven race wins and claimed the European title.
He graduated to Formula 2 with the Minardi team, but it was an unhappy marriage. He then paired up with Walter Brun’s EuroBrun sports car concern, starting a long relationship that would last into the 1990s.
However, Brun was far too overambitious when he decided to enter Formula 1 in 1988, and poor Larrauri found himself struggling to qualifying the uncompetitive cars, managing to make the grid just eight times in 21 attempts over the next eighteen months.
He returned to his native South America in the late 1990s, becoming a three-time champion in the South American Super Touring Championship in 1997, 1998 and 2000.
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