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Talking of tribute helmets...

NEWS STORY
24/05/2019

On a weekend that Sebastian Vettel is sporting a very nice helmet in tribute to the late Niki Lauda, youngster Callan O'Keefe is sporting a similarly striking helmet in tribute to 1979 world champion, Jody Scheckter.

O'Keeffe, a former member of the Red Bull Junior Team and Lotus F1 Junior Team, is in Monaco this weekend contesting the Formula Renault Eurocup.

The South African youngster is driving for the Fernando Alonso owned Drivex team, which was originally founded by Pedro de la Rosa, and is seeking to build on the points earned at Silverstone, the second round of the season.

Explaining the thinking behind his Scheckter inspired lid, Callan said: "I'm from South Africa – although I live in St Albans, UK – so I guess that makes me something of a rarity: a South African single-seater driver on the international racing stage.

"Don't get me wrong," he continues, "there have been some very good South African drivers, but there's been only one truly great one. He last started a Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in 1980, and no South African has started one since.

"I'm not going to make any outlandish predictions, but I'm going to give it my all. On social media I call it #SchoolOfSend – absolutely flat-out in other words. And, while I'm 'sending' it, I'll be inspired by the great, Jody Scheckter.

"He won the Monaco Grand Prix twice, in 1977 and 1979, the second time in a Ferrari, from pole position, leading all the way. It really doesn't get much better than that, does it? Monaco, Ferrari, pole, victory, leading every lap.

"Moreover, Jody was fantastic that day. He'd out-qualified his Ferrari team-mate, the brilliant Gilles Villeneuve, a man whom Jody himself has described as "the fastest driver in the history of motor racing”, and the two hurled their brutal but elegant Ferrari 312T4s around the super-tight confines of Monte-Carlo, nose to tail, lap after lap, until Villeneuve's race was ended by transmission failure on lap 55. Jody then reeled off the last 21 laps, judging his pace perfectly and taking the flag half a second ahead of Clay Regazzoni's fast-closing Williams FW07. On Monday, the day after the second of our two races here, it'll be 40 years to the day since that famous victory.

"Jody's race helmet was one of the best: a white Bell with an orange band, 'Jody' bold and clear on each side, and a 'Brooklyn' logo on the visor. As a tribute, my helmet this weekend will be identical, but with 'Callan' in place of 'Jody'. You're an inspiration, Mr Scheckter, sir, and, 40 years on, I hope to follow in your tyre tracks."

Despite limited track time in free practice, Callan qualified ninth for the race, which inspired a congratulatory "well done" from Fernando Alonso, who could surely do with some good news at present.

Overtaking on the mean streets of Monaco is never easy, and starting from ninth Callan will have his work cut out if he is to finish on the podium in either of this weekend's two races... but, considering Scheckter's achievement here forty years ago, perhaps that helmet can inspire him to greater things.

Picture Credit: Dutch Photo Agency

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