PEOPLE: DAVID YORKE

Name: David Yorke
Nationality: Great Britain

A career officer with the Royal Air Force, Yorke was a keen motor racing spectator in the 1930s when he became friendly with drivers Peter Whitehead and Peter Walker. During the war he flew Hurricanes in Europe and in the Far East but then returned to his previous life until 1949 when he went with Whitehead to Brno for the Czech Grand Prix in which the Englishman was racing a private Ferrari. Whitehead won the race and afterwards asked Yorke if he would become his team manager in 1950. Yorke left the RAF and took on his new role, helping out at sportscar races when Whitehead was driving for the Jaguar factory team. Whitehead and Walker won Le Mans in 1951 in a Jaguar and later that summer Whitehead was offered a drive in one of Tony Vandervell's Thinwall Specials at the British GP in which Yorke was also involved

When Vandervell decided to build his own Grand Prix cars in 1954 Yorke was taken on as team manager for the operation which was based in Acton in West London. The cars were not competitive until 1957 when Tony Brooks, Stirling Moss and Stuart Lewis-Evans all showed well. The following year the Vanwall team won six of the nine rounds of the World Championship and the team won the Constructors' title although they were beaten to the Drivers' crown by Ferrari's Mike Hawthorn. The success was overshadowed by Lewis-Evans's death in the final race in Morocco. At the end of that year Vandervell withdrew the team from competition although a series of one-off prototypes were produced until 1962.

Yorke finally left Vanwall at the end of that year and did not reappear in racing until 1966 when John Wyer of Ford asked him him to manage the GT40 team. This resulted in success which included Le Mans victories in 1968 and 1969. In 1970 John Wyer Automotive did a deal to run the factory Porsche 917s and Yorke managed the team. In 1971 the team ran a third car with Martini sponsorship for Vic Elford and Gerard Larrousse and when the JWA-Porsche came to an end Yorke was hired as a motor racing consultant by Martini & Rossi.

He suggested that the Italian drinks company sponsor the Brabham team, which had just been taken over by Bernie Ecclestone, who had known Yorke from the days when Ecclestone had been Lewis-Evans's manager. Martini decided, however, that it wanted to sponsor the Tecno team instead. This was not a success and in 1973 Yorke ran a British-based Tecno operation. The relationship between the English and Italian groups was not successful. Martini did, however, enjoy some success in sportscars racing with the Porsche factory team. Martini took Yorke's advice and began to support Brabham. The relationship was a success with Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace both figuring strongly in the 1975 World Championship. A switch to Alfa Romeo engines made life more difficult in 1976 and 1977. Martini sponsored Porsche sportscars in 1978 but returned to F1 in 1979 with Team Lotus.

After that Yorke retired from the sport.

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