The cruelty of motorsport where tragedy lurks in the shadows of 200mph racers is all too readily a threat to the bravest of the brave taking wheel-to-wheel rivallry to the very edge.
A deeper, heartbreaking irony is when a victim was not even the driver of the car that killed him in a horrendous crash.
Such was the awful fate of Sean Edwards,a burgeoning talent, well-known in the UAE and on target to clinch the prestigious Porsche Super Cup title at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi next month.
As a favour, he was monitoring a 20-year-old would-be race driver from the passenger seat in a Porsche 911 sports car when it went out of control and crashed head-on through a tyre barrier and into a concrete wall and caught fire in Queensland, Australia, last week.
Edwards was killed instantly. His Australian driver, pulled clear after a three hour rescue bid, suffered serious injuries and burns that left him on the ‘critical’ list in hospital.
I know this is a departure from my usual coverage of Formula One, but having known his father, an ex-grand prix challenger who was awarded a bravery medal for his part in the rescue of Niki Lauda from his blazing car at the German grand prix in 1976, and in anticipation of Sean’s rise through the ranks to F1, I felt it my duty to pay my respects.
His 18 points lead in the Porsche Super Cup title chase,with the double-header finale in Abu Dhabi to go, virtually guaranteed his crowning glory.
He had already stirred excitement and hope of progress to the forefront of racing in Formula One by winning the arduous Nurburgring 24 Hours race in May, Mercedes’ first victory in that event, and,earlier, a triumph in the Dubai 24 Hours clash.
He had followed his father, Guy,who collected two world championship victories in sportscars, into motorsport as a kid karter aged eleven in France before, at 16, moving into the one-make Formula Ford class.
As a break from racing he proudly portrayed his hero father and his rescue of Lauda in the grand prix movie hit ‘Rush’.
This season, reaching the high spots and looking increasingly adept, he had already been a winner three times in the Super Cup and was surefire to smooth drive his way to the title at the Yas Marina showcase track.
‘He was at the top of his game, one of the heroes of the Supercup and, no doubt,this was going to be his season,’ said Stalwart Porsche team owner Franz Konrad who brought young Edwards into the F1 support series in 2008.
‘He was only 21, and not the finished article, but he had the speed immediately,’ he added.
The pace of the car at the time of the mid-morning crash has not been revealed but a police officer described it as ‘extremely high’.
Investigations are underway to ascertain the cause of the crash… but inexperienced driver carelessness and disastrous loss of control at Turn 6 of the Queensland Raceway, appears to be the issue.
Whatever,the tragic death of such a gifted talent,with his fate taken out of his own highly skilled hands, has dealt the UK’s motorsport community a stunning blow.