A new name is moving towards the front of motorsport - and it all started in a loft in Coggeshall. We reveal how Gigawave MotorSport joined Aston Martin
EVERY year, Silverstone is filled with around £50million worth of the world's most sought-after cars.
This annual Supercar Showdown sees glamorous cars and glamorous people flock to the Northamptonshire circuit - and the highlight of the weekend is the opening round of the FIA GT Championship, one of motorsport's most prestigious international race series. So important is the Silverstone round that the winners of this one race are presented with the famous Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy. Among the teams vying for this celebrated prize was Essex-based Gigawave MotorSport. Based in Earls Colne, Gigawave is the only UK-based outfit in GT1 - the top class of the championship. What's more, 2008 is Gigawave MotorSport's debut season and Silverstone was the team's first full race.Forget Formula 1 and its almost identical-looking single-seaters; this is sports car racing, with recognisable race-prepared supercars - everything from Ferrari and Lamborghini to Maserati, Porsche and Corvette. But for its own FIA GT race car, Gigawave MotorSport has chosen a marque with a proud British heritage (and just a hint of James Bond) - Aston Martin.
Aston Martin DBR9The team's Aston Martin DBR9 is, like Bond, elegant, sophisticated and charming, but with a wild streak that takes some taming. Powered by a 600bhp 6.0-litre V12 engine, this supercar can reach up to 200mph and rocket from 0-62mph in just 3.4 seconds.Few could have anticipated that Gigawave MotorSport would achieve much in its first race, but, against all expectations, the Gigawave DBR9 led the entire field for 21 laps. Despite being pipped to the post in the closing minutes, the team still managed to finish in a remarkable third. A podium finish on a team's first outing is an outstanding, and highly unusual, achievement.'Yes, upon reflection, it was a great result,' says team principal Fenton Yeulett, who set up the team from scratch late last year. 'But at the time there was an air of disappointment because we'd led for so much of the race. For a while it really seemed that we'd win the Tourist Trophy for Britain.'Nevertheless, to take third place in your first race after only eight months as a team is something we are very proud of. It is a reward for all the hard work that's been put in by the guys. 'There's been so much to do. We had to find a suitable building and turn it into a workshop, get the car, find experienced mechanics, sign up drivers, design team kit; so much time and effort has been put in behind the scenes, and it's important to savour the success when it comes your way.'Gigawave MotorSport's Earls Colne home is now a flurry of activity as the team prepares for the rest of the racing around the world. The ten-round championship tours Europe thoughout the summer before the end-of-season finale in Argentina in November. Unlike Formula 1, the FIA GT Championship sees two drivers for each car, with a pit-stop swap-over during the race. Top drivers are hard to come by, but Gigawave MotorSport impressed both Philipp Peter and Allan Simonsen with the set-up and ambitious future plans to get these respected international racers to sign on for the season. Simonsen is the reigning Australian GT Champion, and was not short of offers for work. 'I felt that Gigawave was the right choice,' he explains. 'The DBR9 is a great car, very fast and reliable. I'd driven for Steve Hagger, the team manager, before when he was working for a different team and he really impressed me. If I didn't think this team had a genuine chance of competing for the title, I wouldn't have come here, it's as simple as that.' Gigawave MotorSport, although a separate business entity, performs a vital role for Gigawave, the world's market leader in wireless transmission systems, also based in Earls Colne. If you watch news and sport on the television, the chances are that a Gigawave system is being used. The company's long lists of credits include Formula 1, the Olympics, Premier League football, horse-racing, Wimbledon tennis, golf, the Eurovision Song Contest and daily live news coverage from around the world. Gigawave is currently preparing for the forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing this summer, where around 50 of its latest high-definition systems will be in action, providing live coverage across the globe. Marketing manager Barney Stinton explains: 'The motorsport team is one of the main test facilities for Gigawave technology. It means we can run the tests that we want, when we want, ensuring that we are ahead of our competitors. That technical edge coupled with the way we run our customer support makes the business development pretty painless.'Although Gigawave today employs around 100 local people at its two state-of-the-art Essex facilities - not to mention its offices in Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa - the company started out with just a handful of people working out of a small room in Coggeshall.
Mind blowing'To look at the facilities now,' says Barney, 'it's mind-blowing that it all started in a loft in Coggeshall. We try our best to maintain a local theme in sourcing technical partners and service providers for both Gigawave and Gigawave MotorSport and, encouragingly, there is a great deal of local interest from companies wanting to come onboard as sponsors to the racing team - which says a lot about the prosperity of the region.'A new project that Gigawave is currently working on is the live streaming of onboard camera footage from the FIA GT Championship direct to the internet. The races can be watched through www.gt1live.tv and each team has its own dedicated online TV channel.Barney believes this tool will be of huge benefit to the sponsors of Gigawave MotorSport. 'We believe that we offer much more than most other racing teams in all forms of motor racing. One of the most exciting elements of our sponsorship is the dedicated live-feed internet TV channel that is personalised to each of our sponsors. This shows live onboard footage from our car. Nothing gets you closer to the action.'
Building on successFor Fenton, the challenge now is to follow up the successes of Silverstone. 'The other teams now know we are here to challenge them. Silverstone surprised a lot of people who felt that, as a brand-new team, we might struggle, but we've always been confident that we can compete at this level of motorsport. The season is going to be interesting and we are learning all the time. We must build on the success of Silverstone and look ahead full of confidence.'
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