Wales Rally GB: Nicolas Gilsoul takes Michael Park Trophy

Paul Turner: “This year we had two standout candidates and I would also like to pay tribute to Julien Ingrassia. He has enjoyed a marvellous season alongside Sebastien Ogier in Volkswagen Motorsport's all-conquering team and deciding between Nicolas and Julien was an extremely hard decision....”
Nicolas Gilsoul, co-driver to Thierry Neuville, has been chosen as the eighth winner of the Michael Park 'Beef' Trophy, an award handed out annually in memory of the late co-driver.

Park lost his life in a tragic accident on Wales Rally GB in 2005 while co-driving for his long-term partner Markko Martin.

He is much missed by the entire World Rally Championship community and to perpetuate his memory a group of friends and colleagues - inspired by Vincent Laverne - commissioned the trophy.

The bronze bust was created by French artist Francois Chevalier and was donated to Michael's wife, Marie, and children, William and Victoria. Each season a smaller replica trophy is awarded to a co-driver who has best demonstrated the qualities associated with Michael during his career, taking into account overall performances, attitude, commitment and other actions or achievements.

The recipient is decided by a jury of Park's close colleagues from the WRC community, comprising Paul Turner (Michael Park's manager), Robert Reid, Vincent Laverne and Mark Wilford. This year there were two nominations from which to choose: Julien Ingrassia - Sebastien Ogier's co-driver - and Gilsoul.

Gilsoul began his co-driving career in 2000 in the Belgian Rally Championship before moving up to the European Rally Championship in 2004, when he guided Bruno Thiry to third. Gilsoul scored his maiden victory alongside his fellow countryman in the 2006 Rallye des Cardabelles Millau-Aveyron.

He made his World Rally Championship debut in 2007 at Rallye Monte-Carlo and joined forces with rising star Thierry Neuville in 2011. The pair finished third in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, having won both the Tour de Corse and Rallye Sanremo.

They signed up for a full 13-round WRC programme with the Citroen Junior World Rally Team for 2012 before switching to the Qatar squad for 2013.

This year they have enjoyed a stellar season - including a run of four consecutive second place finishes. The pair could secure the runners-up position in the FIA World Rally Championship at Wales Rally GB this weekend.

Neuville and Gilsoul have also just been announced as the lead pairing for the new Hyundai Motorsport team in 2014.

“Nicolas is relatively inexperienced compared to his colleagues in the major teams. Indeed Wales Rally GB will only be his 28th WRC start, but he has quickly established himself right at the top of the elite group of World Championship co-drivers,” said Turner.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Thierry Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul join Hyundai for 2014 [pic credit: Hyundai Motorsport]
Thierry Neuville Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)
Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Thierry Neuville Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)
Thierry Neuville Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)
Thierry Neuville Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)

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