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'Spygate' Stepney killed on UK motorway

2014-05-04 09:40

SECOND TIME UNLUCKY: Ferrari's then chief mechanic Nigel Stepney (centre, left) is hit by Michael Schumacher's car at the 2000 Spanish F1 GP. Almost exaclty 14 years later he was killedt by a truck. File image: AFP

LONDON, England - Nigel Stepney, the ex-Ferrari mechanic at the centre of the Formula 1 'spygate' scandal in 2007, was killed on a British motorway on May 2 2014.

He was 56.

A police statement said simply: "A silver VW Caddy van, driven by a 56-year-old man, stopped on the hard shoulder of the M20 London-bound carriageway.

"For reasons yet to be established, the man appears to have entered the carriageway (walked into the high-speed traffic - Ed) and was then in a collision with an articulated goods vehicle. He was pronounced deceased at the scene."

800-PAGE LEAK

Stepney, who'd worked closely with former F1 champion Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, effectively becoming the German's personal engineer, was sentenced in Italy to 20 months in prison after being found guilty of sabotage, industrial espionage and sporting fraud.

He leaked nearly 800 pages of confidential Ferrari information to British-based F1 rival McLaren ahead of the 2007 F1 season. Stepney did not serve the sentence but never worked in F1 again.

Before that he enjoyed a lengthy career in F1 that included time with the Shadow, Lotus, Benetton and Ferrari teams. After leaving F1 he worked most recently in sports cars, joining the JRM team in Daventry, central England, in 2010.

He helped JRM win the 2011 FIA GT1 World championship and a year later guided the team to the World Endurance championship and third overall in the LMP1 category. The team was also sixth in a Le Mans 24 Hours.

'FOCUSED AND PASSIONATE'

JRM owner James Rumsey said on Friday: "Nigel was an intense and fierce competitor and always strived for excellence in our racing. We certainly could not have achieved our level of success without his leadership and experience.

"Away from the track, he was a focused, driven and passionate member of the JRM Group, and a loving father to his family.

"The rest of the engineering and race team here at JRM learned an unimaginable amount from Nigel in the four years he was with us and his death this morning has shocked everyone to the core.

"The motorsport world has lost one of its greatest characters and competitors. He will be sorely missed and we send our sincere condolences to his family and the many friends he leaves behind."

• English law rules that an inquest must be held. It will determine whether Stepney's death was an accident - or otherwise. - Editor
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