Bob McMurray: Kiwi integral part of W Series planning
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Eighteen female drivers will race at Hockenheimring in Germany this weekend in the one-make W Series.
It’s not the most imaginative name but it will forever be associated with the first single-seater series solely for females.
And it’s been a monumental task progressing the series from a nascent idea to a grid full of cars.
Leaving aside the financing, the marketing, the PR and media and all the other essential front-office jobs, the eyes of the world will be on not only the faces of the actual drivers, but the entire set-up of the cars, engines, garages, facilities, race organisation, engineering and all the other multiple pieces of a massive jigsaw that came together in less than a year.
Getting five huge race-car transporters built and operational is not the work of a moment. The man responsible for that is Kiwi Dave Ryan, the racing director of the W Series.
Ryan is a respected figure in any motorsport paddock and had a long tenure at the McLaren Formula 1 team as sporting director before becoming collateral damage in a Lewis Hamilton controversy, a pivotal point in the ongoing battle between McLaren boss Ron Dennis and the then FIA president Max Mosley.
A mark of the man is that Ryan received offers from many teams around the world.
The McLaren team was the leading team in the F1 paddock, it set the standard in terms of appearance, garage innovation, slick teamwork and all-round excellence with much of the public credit going to Ron Dennis.
But it was Ryan who engineered much of that reputation for quality and perfection as a racing team.
Sometimes a hard taskmaster he demanded nothing but the best.
Peter Vale, general manager of Australian Supercars team Brad Jones Racing worked under Ryan at McLaren F1. Speaking exclusively to Driven, Vale said “Dave’s attention to detail was paramount and this ethos was instilled through the crew that worked under him. As a boss, Dave was firm. He pushed his crew to meet the goals he set for himself and the team and although this was often more than some personnel had set for themselves, Dave always helped those individuals to achieve them. Dave was also extremely fair, loyal and supportive towards his crew, first and foremost.
“I would say apart from Ron Dennis, I doubt there was ever, or ever will be, a more dedicated McLaren team member than Dave. He was integral to McLaren’s continued success and the development of many of today’s highly placed individuals in top level motorsport.”
It was Ryan who managed the sourcing of the W Series Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 cars and engine package, together with a team of engineers to run them, and navigated the technical course that results in this debut weekend.
I hope this series will put women drivers on the grid of future Formula 1 grands prix.
It is not only our Kiwi drivers who are making their international motorsport mark for this country.
Ryan is a Kiwi who has stood atop the world’s motorsport ladder for a long time and if determination, professionalism, and a dedication to excellence are the keys to making sure that the W Series is a triumph, it will be.