A British racing driver who had recently recreated his father’s heroic efforts to save Formula One world champion Niki Lauda for a Hollywood film has died in a crash on a track in Australia.
Sean Edwards, 26, was killed instantly when the Porsche 966 car in which he was a passenger smashed into a tyre wall barrier on the Queensland Raceway close to Brisbane during a two-day private training session for young drivers.
The London-born driver was considered one of British racing’s brightest talents and was leading this year’s Porsche Supercup championship, a format which runs parallel to the Formula One world championship. He was also part of the team that one this year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours endurance race.
Based in Monaco, Edwards last year played the role of his father, former Formula One driver Guy Edwards, in Ron Howard’s hit film Rush, which chronicles the rivalry between Lauda and Britain’s James Hunt during the 1976 Grand Prix season.
Guy Edwards was one of a trio of drivers who dashed to Lauda’s car and pulled him clear after it burst into flames following the famous crash on the Nurburgring during the German Grand Prix.
Tributes were immediately paid to Sean. Former F1 driver David Coulthard said he was shocked to hear of the fatal crash and posted on Twitter: “Top man and super talented race, condolences to his nearest and dearest.”
Allan McNish, three times winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, said he had followed Sean’s career for many years through his friendship with his father.
He said: “I would say this was probably his strongest year in racing... This was a breakthrough year for him. He was showing what talent he had, but had maybe never had the opportunity to actually display it. Apart from that, he was a guy who loved life, loved cycling, was strong and fit.”
Edwards was on his first visit to Australia and had only been in the country a number of hours before the accident happened. He posted on his Facebook page on Saturday: “First time in Aus, have heard great thing[s] so looking forward to my two days there!”
In his last post on Twitter, Edwards said: “Time to hit Queensland Raceway today, should be fun, hope there aren’t too many kangaroos like at Bathurst!” - referring to a leading Australian racing event.
Police were last night still investigating the crash, which caused such extensive damage to the super-car carrying the two men that it took a number of hours to extricate its 20-year-old driver. The Brisbane man was in intensive care with life-threatening injuries.
Photographs of the crash scene appeared to show the front half of the Porsche almost completely concertinaed into the rest of the car.
Inspector Dave Preston, of Queensland Police, said: “The fire and rescue had to do extensive work in relation to extracting and opening the vehicle up... With the impact of the vehicle at speed, you could imagine the crunching that would occur and the amount of damage that was caused.”
Edwards, who is believed to have recently become engaged to his girlfriend Laura, had spoken of his pride at being able to play his father in the Hollywood film and was pictured posing next to a vintage re-creation of the car he had driven.
Guy Edwards and his wife Daphne made no immediate comment on the death of their son.
Scott McLaughlin, a fellow racing driver, tweeted: “Our sport is dangerous, we are very lucky to be still here telling a tale. RIP Sean Edwards.”