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Amon remembered as a motorsport gentleman

NZN 3/08/2016

Motor-racing great Chris Amon, who has died after battling cancer, is being remembered as one of the sport's gentlemen.

Often considered the greatest driver never to win a Formula One race, Amon died in Rotorua Hospital on Wednesday.

His death comes a fortnight after his 73rd birthday and 50 years after he and fellow New Zealander Bruce McLaren won the famed Le Mans 24-hour race in a Ford GT40.

McLaren Technology Group chairman and chief executive Ron Dennis, who heads the team founded by McLaren, paid tribute to Amon, whom he regarded as a long-time friend.

"I have extremely fond memories of him, and indeed I would describe him as one of the most likeable men I have met in my long racing career," Dennis said.

He said Amon was "a great New Zealander, a true gentleman and one of the fastest racing drivers there ever was".

Former British F1 driver Martin Brundle tweeted: "Very sad to hear that the great Chris Amon has died. Met him a few years ago in NZ, what a lovely man. Approachable, humble, a class act."

Born in Bulls, Amon was part of a trio of New Zealanders who drove in F1 in the 1960s and 1970s, along with McLaren and Denny Hulme, who won the world drivers championship in 1967.

During his 14-year F1 career, which included three seasons with iconic Italian marque Ferrari, Amon made 96 starts, five of them from pole, and finished 11 times on the podium.

He never managed to get the chequered flag, with bad luck often cited as the reason.

Apart from Le Mans in 1966, his other wins included the Daytona 24-hour race, the 1000km of Monza, the New Zealand Grand Prix twice and the Tasman Championship in 1969.

Amon retired from F1 in 1976 and from all motor racing in 1977, when he returned to New Zealand.

He was made an MBE for his services to motorsport in 1993 and was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

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