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Kenny Acheson

Full Name:
Kenneth Henry Acheson
Born:
27th November 1957 (Age 62)
Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Nationality:
British
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The 1980 British Formula 3 finale was perhaps the defining moment for Kenny Acheson. So long championship leader, that year’s British hero lost a three-way title decider and his Grand Prix ambitions were fatally wounded that day.

Upbringing and early career

His father was an amateur driver who owned an Ulster brickworks. The young Kenny followed him into the sport and showed prodigious talent in Formula Ford 1600 – making his debut in 1976 and winning the Irish title a year later. Acheson dominated the 1978 British FF1600 Championships with a works Royale RP24 and won 29 times to clinch all three titles. His potential was recognised with the Grovewood Award for the most promising young Commonwealth talent.

Long-term sponsor RMC funded two seasons in British F3 and Acheson was promising in his rookie year. He was then on the verge of the 1980 title in Murray Taylor Racing’s March-Toyota but Acheson could not hold off Stefan Johansson’s late charge. He spun during the final round at Thruxton and second equal with Roberto Guerrero was ultimately a disappointment.

Acheson entered Formula 2 as Johansson’s 1981 team-mate at DS Team Toleman. His year was marred by a leg-breaking accident at Pau just as he started to show his form at that level. Barely recovered, Acheson finished a brave third when he returned at the final round at Mantorp Park. He continued in the category with Ralt-Honda in 1982 and Maurer a year later. Seventh in 1982 was his best year in F2 with a couple of second-place finishes as close as he came to victory.

Formula 1 at the wrong end of the pitlane

He did make the move to Formula 1 in the middle of 1983 with the uncompetitive RAM team but it was an unhappy experience. He qualified just once to make his debut in South Africa. Another half season for the team in 1985 was equally depressing. Drafted in after Manfred Winkelhock was killed, Acheson only qualified twice. It was a poor F1 return for a fine talent.

Success in sports cars

But the Irishman set about rebuilding his career. He made a one-off Champ Car appearance at the 1984 Meadowlands race and raced in Japan soon after – winning the 1987 Japanese Sportscar Championship with Kunimitsu Takahashi and Alpha’s Porsche 962.

His breakthrough on the international stage was with Sauber-Mercedes in the 1989 World Sportscar Championship. The Sauber C9/88-Mercedes he shared with Mauro Baldi won at Brands Hatch and Spa-Francorchamps and was second at Le Mans (with Gianfranco Brancatelli also driving) – the highlights of his racing career. Third in the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours for Jaguar and second once more a year later with Toyota, he retired from the sport after crashing a Lister Storm during the 1996 Daytona 24 Hours.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1992 World Sportscar Championship
Toyota Team TOM's
2 0 1 0 16th 15
1991 World Sportscar Championship
Silk Cut Jaguar
1 0 1 0 24th 12
1990 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Nissan Motorsports Europe
Team Le Mans
9 0 1 0 12th 11
1989 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Team Sauber Mercedes
8 5 6 2 4th 97 (105)
1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Team Sauber Mercedes
1 (1) 0 0 0 0
1987 All-Japan F3000 Championship 15th 8
1987 All-Japan Sports-Prototype Championship 1st -
1987 World Touring Car Championship 1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1987 World Sports-Prototype Championship 1 0 0 0 0
1986 FIA International F3000 Championship
Eddie Jordan Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship 1 0 0 0 0
1985 F1 World Championship
Skoal Bandit Formula 1 Team
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1985 World Endurance Championship
John Fitzpatrick Racing
2 (1) 0 0 0 0
1985 All-Japan F2 Championship 3rd 66 (69)
1984 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
WIT Promotions
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1983 F1 World Championship
RAM Automotive Team March
1 (6) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1983 European F2 Championship
Maurer Motorsport
8 0 1 0
0% win rate
10th 6
1982 European F2 Championship
Ralt Racing
13 0 1 0
0% win rate
7th 12
1982 All-Japan F2 Championship 12th 10
1981 European F2 Championship
Docking Spitzley Team Toleman
8 0 1 0
0% win rate
15th 5
1980 European F3 Championship
Murray Taylor Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1980 Vandervell British F3 Championship
Murray Taylor Racing
5 3 5 5 2nd 95
1979 European F3 Championship
Murray Taylor Racing
0 (2) 0 0 0 0
1979 Vandervell British F3 Championship 6th 35