Lotus Renault GP has called in longtime motorsport executive John Wickham to be its new team manager. Wickham began his motor racing career 39 years ago with the British Automobile Racing Club, helping to organise race meetings. He then joined the Surtees F2, which sponsored at the time by Matchbox and Fina and ran Mike Hailwood and Jochen Mass. At the end of 1978 Wickham joined the March F2 team and stayed until 1981 when he and engineer Gordon Coppuck formed Spirit Racing to compete in Formula 2 in 1982 and to enter F1 with Honda engines. The team was sponsored by Marlboro and ran Thierry Boutsen and Stefan Johansson. That autumn the team began development of the Spirit F1 programme with Johansson and entered Grand Prix racing in 1983 but Honda quickly did a deal with Williams for 1984 and so Spirit was left with Hart engines. The team struggled on until early in 1985. Wickham then moved to touring cars, running the RAS Volvo team in the European Touring Car Championship before moving on to head TOM’S GB’s motorsport activities. In 1988 he tried to revive Spirit in Formula 3000 before being hired by Footwork to look after its F3000 effort with Ukyo Katayama and Damon Hill. This led to a job as team manager of the Arrows F1 team after it was bought by Footwork.
He stayed with Arrows until the start of 1995 but then became team manager of Audi Sport UK operation in the British Touring Car Championship, winning the title in 1996 with Frank Biela and the team moved on to a Le Mans 24 Hours programme in 1999. This resulted in victory in 2003 when the team was rebadged as Bentley. In recent years Wickham has been running the A1 Grand Prix championship. The team’s sporting director Steve Nielsen resigned recently, deciding he had enough of life at Enstone.