Steve Soper

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Steve "Soperman" Soper
Fina McLaren F1 GTR.jpg
Soper driving a McLaren F1 GTR at Donington Park, England in 1997.
Nationality English
Born (1951-09-27) 27 September 1951 (age 65)
BTCC record
Teams Mini, Rover, TWR, Ford, BMW,
Peugeot Sport UK
Drivers
championships
0
Wins 14
Podium finishes
Poles
Fastest laps
Debut season 1982
First win 1983 (Overall)
Best championship position 2nd
Final season (2001) position 6th (93 points)

Steve Soper is a racing driver from Surrey, England, born in 1951.

He raced in major sports car and touring car categories in the 1980s and 1990s. He won the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 1987, the 24 Hours of Spa in 1995 and the Guia Race in 1997 – many of which through his longest association, with BMW.

Career[edit]

Across just over two decades Soper won three major races: the 24 Hours Nürburgring in 1987, the 24 Hours of Spa in 1995 and the Guia Race in 1997.

Soper had been successful in one make series, before making his BTCC debut in 1982 in a Metro.[1] His talent was spotted by Tom Walkinshaw and he joined TWR in 1983. He won the championship in his first season with the works Austin Rover team but rival Frank Sytner protested the TWR team and his Rover Vitesse was later deemed illegal due to an issue with the engine installation. TWR was disqualified and the title was awarded to Andy Rouse.[2] He later joined Eggenberger Motorsport and finished as runner-up in the series in 1988 in a Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth, enjoying many on-track battles with Andy Rouse in the process.[3]

Soper would challenge for the title in 1991, finishing 4th and in 1993, finishing as runner up behind teammate Joachim Winkelhock for BMW. Soper had led the championship for most of the season but a run of bad luck towards the end of the year damaged his title challenge. During the season finale of the 1992 championship, Soper was involved in the infamous collision with John Cleland, which cost Cleland the title and famously led him to label Soper 'an animal.'[4] 1995 saw Soper race in the Japanese Super Touring championship for Schnitzer BMW, winning the championship outright that year. Soper raced in the German Super Tourenwagen Cup in 1996, challenging for the title until an incident late in the season with his team mate ended his championship chances. He finished second overall to Emanuele Pirro. In 1997 he came second in the FIA GT Championship. Soper finished fifth driving a Ford Sierra for Eggenberger Motorsport in the one-off World Touring Car Championship in 1987 run under Group A regulations. That year, he won the Bathurst 1000, but was later disqualified for a technical infringement[5]

Soper was offered a works drive for BMW, and competed in the night European, Japanese and German Touring Car Championships.[6] During the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans, he expressed dislike of the 24-hour classic race, established in the early 20th century.

By 2000, Soper fell out of favour with Gerhard Berger, who was in charge of BMW's motorsport operations and retired from racing as he was solely interested in racing BMWs and acquired a BMW dealership in Lincoln.[7] For 2001, he reluctantly, made a surprise return to the British Championship for Peugeot. The car's build rendered it less successful than the Vauxhall Astra. He finished 6th in a thin field and was advised to retire on medical grounds after a heavy crash in the final round.

In 2013, Soper, who had earned the nickname "Soperman" (with final syllable stress to sound like "superman") from his fans during his career, announced plans, on medical clearance, to race. [8]

Soper was voted the greatest saloon car driver ever by readers of Motor Sport.[9]

Racing record[edit]

Complete British Saloon/Touring Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position – 1973–1990 in class) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap – 1 point awarded ?–1989 in class)

Year Team Car Class 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 DC Pts Class
1982 Team Sanyo Racing with Esso Austin Metro 1300 HLS D SIL
?
MAL
Ret†
OUL
6†
THR
12
THR
Ret
SIL
Ret
DON
10
BRH
?
DON
9
BRH
6
SIL
14
3rd 65 2nd
1983 Team Sanyo Racing with Esso Rover Vitesse A SIL
1
OUL
3
THR
7
BRH
1
THR SIL
1
DON
Ret
SIL
1
DON
1
BRH
2
SIL
2
DSQ 68 DSQ
1984 Team Sanyo Racing with Esso Rover Vitesse A DON
2
SIL OUL THR THR
1
SIL SNE BRH BRH DON SIL NC 0 NC
1985 Roger Dowson Engineering MG Metro Turbo B SIL
Ret
OUL THR DON THR SIL DON SIL SNE BRH BRH SIL NC 0 NC
1988 Eggenberger Motorsport Ford Sierra RS500 A SIL OUL
DNA
THR
1
DON THR SIL SIL BRH
2
SNE BRH BIR
C
DON
2
SIL 15th 21 6th
1989 BMW Team Finance BMW M3 B OUL SIL THR DON
11‡
THR SIL SIL BRH SNE BRH BIR DON SIL 43rd 4 10th
1991 BMW Team Finance BMW M3 SIL
18
SNE DON
1
THR SIL BRH SIL
1
DON
1

2
DON
2

Ret
OUL
3
BRH
1

6
BRH
2

Ret
DON THR
1
SIL 4th 96
1992 M Team Shell Racing with Listerine BMW 318is SIL THR
5
OUL
8
SNE BRH
3
DON
1

17
DON
2

3
SIL KNO
1

4
KNO
2

6
PEM
2
BRH
1

Ret
BRH
2

5
DON
2
SIL
Ret
6th 77
1993 BMW Motorsport Team BMW 318i SIL
1
DON
3
SNE
1
DON
3
OUL
Ret
BRH
1

4
BRH
2

1
PEM
3
SIL
Ret
KNO
1

12
KNO
2

8
OUL
2
BRH
3
THR
6
DON
1

Ret
DON
2

5
SIL
5
2nd 150
1994 BMW Motorsport Team Schnitzer BMW 318i THR
4
BRH
1

10
BRH
2

6
SNE
8
SIL
1
SIL
2
OUL
4
DON
1
DON
2
BRH
1

4
BRH
2

14
SIL KNO
1

3
KNO
2

1
OUL BRH
1

5
BRH
2

4
SIL
1

22
SIL
2

5
DON
1

12
DON
2

Ret
7th 102
2001 Peugeot Sport UK Peugeot 406 Coupé T BRH
1

7
BRH
2

4*
THR
1

Ret
THR
2

Ret
OUL
1

16
OUL
2

Ret
SIL
1

11
SIL
2

6
MON
1

4
MON
2

Ret
DON
1

6
DON
2

5*
KNO
1

Ret
KNO
2

4*
SNE
1

20
SNE
2

4
CRO
1

12
CRO
2

Ret
OUL
1

Ret
OUL
2

Ret*
SIL
1

20
SIL
2

8
DON
1

20
DON
2

Ret
BRH
1

Ret
BRH
2

DNS
6th 93
  1. ^ – Race was stopped due to heavy rain. No points were awarded.

† Events with 2 races staged for the different classes.

‡ Endurance driver.

Complete World Touring Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Team Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 DC Points
1987 Switzerland Ford Texaco Racing Team Ford Sierra RS Cosworth MNZ
DSQ
JAR
ovr:5
cls:6
DIJ
ovr:3
cls:1
NUR
Ret
SPA
Ret
5th 193
Ford Sierra RS500 BNO
ovr:2
cls:2
SIL
ovr:13
cls:5
BAT
DSQ
CLD
ovr:1
cls:1
WEL
ovr:3
cls:2
FJI
ovr:5
cls:3

* Overall race position shown. Registered WTCC points paying position may differ.

24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1983 Japan Mazdaspeed United Kingdom Jeff Allam
United Kingdom James Weaver
Mazda 717C C Jr. 267 18th 2nd
1996 Italy Team Bigazzi
Germany Team BMW Motorsport
France Jacques Laffite
Belgium Marc Duez
McLaren F1 GTR GT1 318 11th 9th
1997 Germany Team BMW Motorsport
Germany BMW Team Schnitzer
Finland JJ Lehto
Brazil Nelson Piquet
McLaren F1 GTR GT1 236 DNF DNF
1998 Germany Team BMW Motorsport Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck
Denmark Tom Kristensen
BMW V12 LM LMP1 60 DNF DNF
1999 United Kingdom Price+Bscher Germany Thomas Bscher
United States Bill Auberlen
BMW V12 LM LMP 345 5th 4th

Complete Japanese Touring Car Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Team Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 DC Pts
1994 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW 318i AUT
1

Ret
AUT
2

7
SUG
1

3
SUG
2

1
TOK
1

6
TOK
2

9
SUZ
1

2
SUZ
2

2
MIN
1

1
MIN
2

1
AID
1

9
AID
2

3
TSU
1

Ret
TSU
2

DNS
SEN
1

1
SEN
2

1
FUJ
1

Ret
FUJ
2

7
3rd 132
1995 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW 318i FUJ
1

10
FUJ
2

5
SUG
1

4
SUG
2

4
TOK
1

3
TOK
2

3
SUZ
1

2
SUZ
2

1
MIN
1

9
MIN
2

2
AID
1

3
AID
2

9
SEN
1

3
SEN
2

1
FUJ
1

1
FUJ
2

2
1st 124

Complete Bathurst 1000 results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1984 United Kingdom Mobil Rover Racing Australia Ron Dickson Rover Vitesse Group A 116 29th 8th
1987* Switzerland Ford Texaco Racing Team Belgium Pierre Dieudonné Ford Sierra RS500 1 161 DSQ DSQ
1988 Australia Miedecke Motorsport Australia Andrew Miedecke Ford Sierra RS500 A 102 DNF DNF
1993 Australia Benson & Hedges Racing Australia Tony Longhurst BMW M3 Evolution A 79 DNF DNF

* 1987 finished 1st on the road but later disqualified.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Masanori Sekiya
Japanese Touring Car Championship
Champion

1995
Succeeded by
Naoki Hattori
Preceded by
Frank Biela
Guia Race winner
1997
Succeeded by
Joachim Winkelhock