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GP Week : Issue 10
TO begin with, SAF1 was just a team, somewhere for our hero Taku to race; but that soon changed. The team quickly took on its now famous identity. It didn’t seem to know its place, and soon had four year- old cars competing with the very best in the world. Great race starts, fast laps and fighting spirits took them to positions far above expectations. By the end of the first year, tenth in Brazil earned them their famous moniker … ‘Giant Killers’. No other team has, to my mind, ever been so intimately concerned with their fan base. From day one, there were invitations to the factory, to private test sessions, to the garage during race weekends, and personal appearances from Takuma and Anthony. An amazing connection between team and fans existed at every level. In Europe, the fan base was modest – but in Japan there were hundreds of thousands of supporters. In 2006 I was at Suzuka and it was SAF1 territory – Honda and Toyota were now being left behind. If F1 cars ran on passion and goodwill, Taku would be World Champion. I have been an F1 fan since 1974, and only really followed two teams: Williams and SAF1. I have never felt the loss when a team has left the circus until now, and it hurts. Silverstone (my next GP) already seems empty. I won’t feel special, I won’t feel part of the whole thing. The last two years, I’ve been going to Grands Prix knowing that my friends were racing. It was a very special feeling. I was at Barcelona 2007 when we won our first point, Taku beating Fisi for eighth position. It was as though we had just won the whole championship. In Canada, Taku overtook Alonso in a pure racing manoeuvre.No-one could quite believe that he had just beaten a World Champion in a McLaren, in a pure race for the corner. Recently, thousands of fans petitioned Honda to keep our team alive, but eventually it came to nothing and the terrible news that our team was withdrawing broke. My heart sank. I got calls, texts and emails from around the world, many different countries, many different people, but one united message: Utter disbelief that our friends were leaving. Even friends not F1 fans themselves, called to offer comfort and regret. Over the past few days we have seen an unusual thing in F1. A team has disappeared and almost no-one has a bad word for them. It seems everyone liked Super Aguri F1. Super Aguri leaves a passionate hole F1 INSIGHT >> o p in io n Mark TalboT Editor www.saf1.org 27