Davison’s unforgettable Lauda moment

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/05/2019
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Supercars star Will Davison has added to a flood of tributes for three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda, who died on Monday, aged 70.

The Austrian is an all-time F1 great, winning world titles with Ferrari in 1975 and ’77, before adding a third with McLaren in 1984.

He had famously survived a fiery accident at the Nurburgring in 1976, returning to race just six weeks later, despite extensive burns and lung damage.

A highly-successful businessman, Lauda spent recent years as a co-owner of the all-conquering Mercedes F1 team, but has suffered ill-health, undergoing a lung transplant last year.

Davison’s links to Lauda came through the legend’s son Mathias, becoming friends when they were both aspiring F1 drivers in the early 2000s, and racing together in the Bathurst 12 Hour last year.

“Incredibly sad to hear Niki Lauda has passed away,” Davison wrote on social media.

“One of the true greats, heroic, brave and courageous beyond words.

“A no nonsense, zero bullshit tolerance attitude stood him out from the majority.

“An era of motorsport I am obsessed with, the likes of Niki we won’t see again. 

“My thoughts are with my good friend Mathias Lauda and all of the family.”

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Incredibly sad to hear Niki Lauda has passed away. One of the true greats, heroic, brave & courageous beyond words. 75,77 & 84 F1 world champion with Ferrari & McLaren. A no nonsense, zero bullshit tolerance attitude stood him out from the majority. An era of Motorsport I am obsessed with, the likes of Niki we won’t see again. My thoughts are with my good friend @mathiaslauda & all of the family. The stories out of Mathias about his father were some of the best, just wonderful people. This photo is at the @ausgp a few years back when(to my shock) Niki called my mobile phone as he wanted to come check out the @supercarschampionship paddock. He was looking at career options for Mathias so Mat asked me if I’d show him around and introduce him to some key people. A true honor to show him around, a memory I’ll never forget. #nikilauda

A post shared by Will Davison (@willdavison__) on

Davison shared a surreal moment at the Australian Grand Prix in 2010, pictured above, when he received a direct call from Niki.

“To my shock, Niki called my mobile phone as he wanted to come check out the Supercars paddock,” Davison wrote.

“He was looking at career options for Mathias so Mat asked me if I’d show him around and introduce him to some key people.

“A true honour to show him around, a memory I’ll never forget.”

Media reports at the time linked Mathias with a Gold Coast 600 seat and Dunlop Super2 Series outings with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, although no deal eventuated.

Others in the Supercars community to have had a direct link with Lauda include the category’s head of motorsport, Adrian Burgess.

Burgess worked as a mechanic at McLaren F1 from 1990-99, before later managing a Carlin Motorsport World Series by Renault team for which Mathias tested.

“Niki was one of those people throughout the paddock that knew everybody in every team, a bit like Bernie [Ecclestone] or JYS (Jackie Stewart),” Burgess told Supercars.com.

“It was like a big family and Niki would stop and say hello whether you were in his team or not.

“Clearly he had a relationship with McLaren and Mercedes, so we worked with each other during the 1990s, and then we did some testing with Mathias in Renault World Series.

“They’re just a nice family, nice people and clearly it’s a loss for everyone in motorsport globally. He was an icon, a living legend, who achieved so much.

“All these people sit there and say ‘what a comeback this or that was’ in other forms of sport, nothing compares to what Niki went through in the 70s.

“He was a true racer, a true survivor, the pain he would have gone through and raced under was just staggering.

“He survived a very dangerous era, and it nearly caught him out.

“But then he just came back bigger, stronger and more focused. That was a testament to his character.”

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