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Loris Kessel

1st April 1950
Lugano, Ticino
15th May 2010 (Aged 60)
Montagnola, Ticino, leukemia
Most recent race (in database):

Born in the Massagno district of Lugano, Loris Kessel was an enthusiastic amateur who started three Grands Prix during 1976. In truth, he never had the talent or machinery to match his undoubted passion for the sport.

Early racing career

He started racing in 1970 and graduated from Formula 3 to Formula 2 with Jo Vonlanthen’s March 742-BMW in the final round of 1974. Changeable weather conditions and chaotic lap charting almost conspired to hand Kessel victory in the opening F2 race of 1975. His Ambrozium-sponsored car was in a secure lead for 16 laps before broken gear linkage denied an unexpected victory. He was fourth at both Hockenheim races that year to finish 16th in the points but Estoril was his rare moment in the spotlight.

Formula 1 at the back of the grid

Kessel stepped up to Formula 1 in 1976 with RAM Racing’s Brabham BT44B-Ford but he was sadly out of his depth. He finished 12th in Belgium before leaving the team after three starts and two DNQs due to financial problems. A final F1 appearance at the 1977 Italian GP was with a Williams FW03-Ford (rechristened the Apollon) but he failed to qualify the Jolly Club of Switzerland-entered car.

Life after Formula 1

He built a successful car dealership and garage business around Lugano (latterly the Ferrari agent for the area) and Kessel continued to race. He remained an occasional competitor in F3 when he made a surprise return to F2 in 1981 with Markus Hotz’s March 812-BMW. Twelfth at the Nürburgring was his best finish in four less-than-competitive races.

Seventh with an Obermaïer Racing Porsche 962 in the 1993 Le Mans 24 Hours, he established Kessel Racing in 2000. This Swiss enthusiast continued to race in GTs until 2008. He died two years later after suffering from leukaemia.