Night of Champions lives up to its star-studded billing

Sunday 29 January 2023

Motorsport UK’s annual Night of Champions lived up to its star-studded billing on 28 January 2023, with many of the sport’s leading personalities from past and present widely celebrated.   

Staged at the prestigious Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, London, the glittering evening not only presented the outstanding successes of last season’s British champions across a wide range of disciplines including circuit racing, rallying, drag racing, autotests and rallycross but also paid tribute to past champions with some very special discretionary awards. 

Multiple FIA Formula One World Championship winning team leaders Ron Dennis CBE and Sir Patrick Head were among the luminaries being honoured, joined by renowned F1 television commentator Martin Brundle, himself a World Championship title-winning driver 

The stand-out achievements of Jonathan Palmer, Chief Executive of pacesetting Motorsport Vision, were also acclaimed.  

Ron Dennis CBE – Lifetime Achievement Award 

Team Principal of the illustrious McLaren Formula One team, Ron Dennis was instrumental in propelling the Woking-based outfit to its lofty status as one of Grand Prix racing’s foremost powerhouses.   

Under his supervision, McLaren won no fewer than seven Constructors’ and 10 Drivers’ Championships, the latter with Niki Lauda (1984), Alain Prost (1985, 1986, 1989), Ayrton Senna 1988, 1990, 1991), Mika Hakkinen (1998, 1999) and Lewis Hamilton (2008).  

In his 37 years at the helm of the team, Dennis also founded McLaren Automotive, creating a series of world-beating road-going supercars including the McLaren F1, McLaren P1 and McLaren Senna.  

Having now ended his tenure at McLaren, Dennis is an Official British Business Ambassador for the United Kingdom, promoting the UK’s excellence internationally. 

Sir Patrick Head – The Keith Duckworth Award 

The Keith Duckworth Award is a new addition to the Night of Champions evening, introduced by the Motorsport UK Board to recognise technical excellence in motorsport design and engineering.  

Duckworth is best known for designing the Cosworth DFV (Double Four Valve) engine, hailed by many as the greatest racing engine of all time. Over the course of 16 years from its debut in 1967, the DFV won more than 150 grands prix and was not only instrumental in revolutionising the way F1 cars were designed but in the rise of private (mostly British) teams such as Brabham, Hesketh, Lotus, March, McLaren, Surtees, Tyrrell and Williams.  

It is thus entirely fitting that the first winner is one of those who benefited from the remarkable DFV’s introduction – Sir Patrick Head.  

Together with the late Sir Frank Williams, Patrick is the co-founder and former Engineering Director of the Williams Formula One team and it was his break-through DFV-powered FW07 design which in 1980 powered Williams to the first of its nine Constructors’ and seven Drivers’ World Championship titles. Head oversaw all of these successes.  

In 2015, Sir Patrick was appointed a Knight Bachelor ‘for services to motorsport’ in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. 

Martin Brundle – The Murray Walker Award   

The Murray Walker Award is a second new accolade introduced by the Motorsport UK Board. It is dedicated to the much-loved motorsport commentator who passed away in 2021 and is still fondly remembered by many as ‘the voice of Formula 1’. 

Introduced to recognise outstanding excellence in broadcast journalism, there could be no better inaugural recipient of this special award than Martin Brundle, a close friend and colleague of Walker’s.   

The pair worked together on ITV’s Formula 1 coverage in the nineties and since then Brundle has been an integral member of the BBC’s and more recently Sky Sports’ coverage of Grand Prix racing and is now best-known for his eventful live pre-race grid walks. 

Jonathan Palmer – The HRH Prince Michael Award of Merit 

The HRH Prince Michael Award of Merit was presented to Jonathan Palmer, a significant driving force within UK motorsport. The former Formula 1 driver and trained physician is the influential Chief Executive at Motorsport Vision (MSV), which runs nine motorsport venues – seven in the UK – plus several leading UK championships, such as GB3 and the British Superbike Championship.  

Palmer’s standard-setting MSV Group continues to set the benchmark for venue presentation and operation to the wider industry and facilitates a number of landmark events every year. A real ‘leader from the front’ of a dedicated team, Palmer also provides valuable input on several Motorsport UK committees and is a Council member. 

As well as the presentation of these special honours, the Night of Champions further lived up to its banner billing with the title-winning performances of newly-crowned British champions also being acclaimed. Notable among these were Tom Ingram, Osian Pryce and Alex Dunne.  

After several near misses, Ingram and Pryce were worthy winners of the British Touring Car and British Rally Championships respectively, while Dunne took the ROKiT F4 British Championship and is now maximising that success to seek stardom further up the single-seater ladder. 

Full list of award winners:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Ron Dennis CBE
  • The Keith Duckworth Award: Sir Patrick Head
  • The Murray Walker Award: Martin Brundle
  • The HRH Prince Michael Award of Merit: Jonathan Palmer
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Steve Tarrant
  • Hawthorn Memorial Trophy: George Russell
  • Sir Malcolm Campbell Memorial Trophy: Susie Wolff MBE
  • BWRDC Lord Wakefield Trophy: Lorraine Gathercole
  • Environmental Sustainability Award: Silverstone Circuit
  • MPB Young Photographer of the Year: Dominic Gibbons
  • Young Journalist of the Year: Luke Barry
  • Club of the Year: Anglia Motor Sport Club
  • Sustainable Club of the Year: Vintage Sports-Car Club
  • Organising Team of the Year: Larne Motor Club
  • Volunteer of the Year: Angela Jones
  • 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Champion: Tom Ingram
  • 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Manufacturers’ Champion: BMW
  • 2022 ROKiT British F4 Champion: Alex Dunne
  • 2022 British Rally Champions: Osian Pryce & Noel O’Sullivan
  • 2022 British Junior Rally Champions: Eamonn Kelly & Conor Mohan
  • 2022 British Historic Rally Champions: Henri Grehan & Daniel Petrie
  • 2022 British Rallycross Champion: Patrick O’Donovan
  • 2022 British Endurance Champions: Wayne Marrs & Tom Jackson
  • 2022 Intelligent Money British GT Champion: Ian Loggie
  • 2022 British Hillclimb Champion: Wallace Menzies
  • 2022 British Drag Racing Champion: Andy Robinson
  • 2022 British Autotest Champion: Alastair Moffatt
  • 2022 SBD Motorsport British Sprint Champion: Matt Hillam
  • 2022 British Car Trial Champion: Garry Preston
  • 2022 British Sporting Trials Champion: Thomas Bricknell
  • 2022 British Truck Racing Champion: Ryan Smith
  • 2022 ROKiT British F4 Esports Champion: Luke McKeown