2023 Guild Awards winners celebrated at RAC

Guild of Motoring Writers members, their colleagues in automotive PR and prominent figures from the motoring and motorsport industry gathered at the RAC Club in Pall Mall, London on the evening of 7th December for the long-established tradition of the Guild’s annual Dinner and Awards.

As ever the event honoured excellence in automotive journalism and photography with winners across a host of categories receiving their awards and prizes on the night. But it was also an excellent social evening with guests catching up with old friends in a champagne reception generously sponsored by Genesis Motor UK, before moving on to dinner.

In his speech to the gathering, Guild Chair Simon Harris delighted in the fact that there were more awards to present to journalists this year than last, thanks to new sponsors coming on board, and he offered the Guild’s grateful thanks to all the award sponsors. He was particularly pleased to see the return of the young writer’s award, adding that it was particularly important to highlight the work of the latest generation of writers; “They are our future.” 

Responding on behalf of the guests, Oliver Rowe, Chair of MICA, the Motor Industry Communicators Association, reflected on the changed world in which both PRs and journalists now work, and notably the challenges, and in some ways drawbacks, that online conferencing has brought with it.

Master of Ceremonies Ben Edwards then took the microphone to reveal the award winners.

Guild/MICA Young PR Professional of the Year, sponsored by Meridian Audio 

In this award, open to those aged 30 and under, judges were looking for the best examples of performance, professionalism and practice in automotive PR. The award was presented by Guild Chair Simon Harris, MICA Managing Director Richard Gotch and from award sponsors Meridian Audio, Director of Marketing Katy Bradshaw, to Auto Trader Senior Communications Manager Bryony Snelling.

The judges felt that, by successfully extending the role of communications into specialist reports and campaigning, Bryony has generated high-quality coverage for Auto Trader that would be impossible to achieve with a more conventional, or a less rigorous, approach.

Highly Commended: Sam Buckingham (Genesis Motor UK), Anastasia Vader (Audi)

AA Campaigning for Motoring Award

From road safety to electric vehicles, or roads maintenance to environmental issues, the judges of this award wanted to see examples of how entrants have built and delivered their case to improve the lives of all road users. AA Campaigns Manager Lorna Lee presented the award to Ray Massey.

The judges thought Ray, a previous winner of the award in 2017, had written clearly, emotively and informatively. His article Everything’s Gone to Pot highlights the urgent need for greater investment in our roads, not only to safeguard road users, particularly those on two wheels, but also to protect the budgets of families. 

Highly Commended: Jack Carfrae, Andrew Charman  

BCA Feature Writer of the Year

This hotly-contested award is in its 29th year and continues to attract a large number of submissions – it is awarded to the writer judged to have made the most outstanding contribution in automotive feature writing. Unfortunately BCA Head of Public Relations Tim Naylor could not attend the event so award judge and Guild Vice-President Ray Hutton presented the award on his behalf to James Taylor.

The judges felt James presented a really ambitious feature that combines an adventure with a road test of a new car while managing to include a report on electric vehicles, evidence of global warming and a visit to the Global seed bank which preserves plant species from extinction – well-planned, well-written and beautifully presented. 

Highly Commended: Jack Carfrae, Claire Evans 

Bentley Motors Editor of the Year

The Bentley Motors Editor of the Year award rewards the editor who can demonstrate they are capable of making critical decisions that make a real difference to the success of their publication. Unfortunately Bentley Motors Head of Corporate Communications Matthew Read was unable to attend so award judge and Guild Vice-President Matthew Carter presented the award to Mark Bursa of Professional Drivermagazine.

The judges recognised that Mark knows his audience and regularly delivers exactly what they want, his title delivering its verdict in a thoughtful, well-argued manner. As a magazine Professional Driver provides an excellent balance of news and comment backed by analytical articles and well thought-out features. 

Highly Commended: Richard Aucock (Auto Retail Profit), Tom Geggus (Autovista24)

Footman James Classic Writer of the Year

Once again the award for writers on classic vehicles proved strongly contested, attracting the most entries. Harry Metcalfe, Brand Ambassador for sponsor Footman James, presented the award to Simon Hucknall

The judges felt that Simon’s well-executed work, on the restoration of an AEC Regent bus, delved into a little-reported area of the classic sector and he produced a well-written and absorbing feature that could be appreciated by all motoring enthusiasts. 

Highly Commended: David Burgess-Wise, Trinity Francis

Genesis Award for Automotive Technology Journalism

Recognising work including engineering excellence for technical audiences, while proving easily accessible to non-specialists, this award was presented by Genesis Motor UK’s Head of PR and Communications Simon Branney to James Taylor, who earned his second accolade of the evening. 

James’ ability to make his writing accessible to both the technically orientated and the layman impressed the judges, telling a complex story really easily.

Highly Commended: Alex Grant, Ray Massey

IVECO Commercial Vehicle Writer of the Year

If recent Guild recruit Trinity Francis felt any disappointment at missing out on the Classic Writer award it did not last long as she was named Commercial Vehicle Writer of the Year, the award presented to her on behalf of sponsor IVECO by Richard Gadaselli.  

The judges were impressed with the fresh, interesting and engaging entries presented by Trinity, a first-time finalist and making a stand-out achievement against the strong opposition of a previous winner and a three-time winner.

Highly Commended: Jack Carfrae, Louise Cole 

Lexus Photographer of the Year

The Guild’s Photographic Awards have always been strongly contested and this year welcomed a new sponsor in Lexus UK. The judges select each category’s finalists on the strength of their submission portfolio, so a consistent level of quality is a must for all entrants. The quality of entries reached a new level this year, with the shortlisted candidates in both categories proving very difficult to separate.

Unfortunately General Award winner Jonathan Fleetwood was unable to be present at the event. Lexus Senior Press Officer David Crouch presented the Motorsport Award to Jakob Ebrey

The general category was almost too close to call – the judges decided that Jonathan should win a third successive award for his portfolio that, while wide-ranging, showed consistent top quality while completely meeting the brief. And Jakob, also a previous winner, emerged just in front of his rivals, the judges praising the visual excellence of his submission but particularly highlighting the personality and emotion that was very evident.

Highly Commended: General – Jayson Fong, Matt Howell
Highly Commended: Motorsport – Will Broadhead, Drew Gibson

MG Motor Young Writer of the Year

The support of new sponsor MG Motor enabled a welcome return of the Young Writer of the Year award, providing both Guild and non-Guild members under the age of 30 with an opportunity to showcase their work. The judges looked for articles that exhibit a combination of thorough research and well-crafted journalism.

MG’s Head of Product, David Allison, presented the award to Yousuf Ashraf of Evo magazine. Yousuf’s pieces were exceptional for someone of 23 years old, the judges feeling that he managed to transport the reader to living the experiences he was writing about with some truly riveting features. 

Highly Commended: Dino Buratti, Charlie Martin 

Prodrive Motorsport Cup

This award recognises an outstanding achievement by a Guild member reporting on motorsport at any level, and was presented by Prodrive Motorsport’s Business Development Manager, Richard Taylor, to Maurice Hamilton.

The judges gave top marks to Maurice, twice a previous winner of this award, for his brilliantly-written, cautionary and timely analysis of Ford as the brand prepares to step back into F1 racing. 

Highly Commended: Indira Flack, Guy Loveridge

Prova PR Business Writer of the Year

In this award, still supported by its founding sponsor in Prova PR, the judges look for a clarity of writing and well-researched articles, both of which this year’s robust entry list provided.

Prova PR founder Richard Postins presented the award to Jonathan Manning – the judges thought the pieces in Jonathan’s submission provided valuable takeaways for the reader, especially his piece on cyber attacks.

Highly Commended: Tom Geggus, Tim Wallace 

RAC EV Journalist of the Year

Presented for the most outstanding example of EV journalism by a Guild member, the judges of this award were looking for a single article specifically related to the use of EVs that was informative, innovative and entertaining.

RAC Senior Press Officer Rod Dennis presented the award to Alex Grant, who entered an exemplary piece of detailed journalism – his feature on how major delivery fleets such as those of Royal Mail and DPD are transitioning to electric vehicles was comprehensive, incredibly well-researched and engagingly written.

Highly Commended: Paul Horrell, Lucy Radley 

Suzuki Award for the Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy

The Suzuki Award for the Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy has long been considered one of the Guild’s blue-riband awards. Open to both Guild members and non-Guild members alike, the award caters exclusively for books and the entry list reflected an interesting and eclectic mix of submissions.

The first, second and third placed finalists all received their awards from the CEO of the National Motor Museum Trust, Dr Jon Murden, and Suzuki Head of Press and PR Alun Parry, and taking the top accolade was Jon Saltinstall, author of Jacky Ickx – His Authorised Competition History. Judges described this as an incredibly well-researched book with a huge amount of time invested in it – the book details 565 races with more than 850 images, many of which are previously unpublished. 

Second in the Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy was Richard Jenkins for Tyrrell: The Story of the Tyrrell Racing Organisation – the judges felt Richard had packed a lot into a wonderful record of a much-loved racing team, fondly remembered long after their demise. 

Third place was taken by Andy Saunders, his book The Automotive Alchemist covering 60 of his wonderful creations in both words and pictures and representing a celebration of his creative joy and design genius. 

Sue Baker Journalist of the Year – sponsored by loop

This award recognises the crème de la crème – the journalists who have gone that extra mile to show their professionalism and their skills worthy of being named Sue Baker Journalist of the Year. The judging panel carefully assessed the winning entries in this year’s other award categories looking for submissions with a particular emphasis being placed on initiative and endeavour.

Guild Chair Simon Harris and loop Head of Agency Tim Bowdler presented the award to a visibly surprised Simon Hucknall. The judges found that among a fine collection of winners, Simon’s diverse portfolio was a stand-out example of well-written and absorbing features in a style accessible to all readers.

Special Contribution to Motoring Award – sponsored by Kia UK 

The evening’s presentations then moved on to those honours bestowed by the Guild on individuals or organisations which have made a notable impact on the automotive world during the past 12 months. Sponsored by Kia UK, the Guild’s Special Contribution to Motoring award is presented for an outstanding contribution to motoring and Kia UK’s Jonathan Musk and Guild Chair Simon Harris presented this year’s award to Sally Boazman, or as she is best known, ‘Sally Traffic’. 

Following a brief foray into acting, Sally entered the world of broadcasting working in the current affairs department of LWT. Her next job placed her in a role for which we know her best, working as a traffic news announcer for The AA and she went on to present traffic reports for a number of radio stations becoming best known on BBC Radio 2 as the network’s first official travel news presenter, delivering travel updates alongside such names as Johnnie Walker, Chris Evans, Simon Mayo, Steve Wright and Jeremy Vine. 

Away from the radio, Sally has produced her own books and narrated a CD for the Highways Agency, while TomTom navigation has her voice available for its GPS units, the proceeds from which go to BBC Children in Need. 

She’s cycled across 250 miles of Kenya’s Rift Valley to support charity Transaid, has won the Truck & DriverDriver’s Choice award for Best Traffic Information, been described by Autotrader UK as the “sexiest voice on the radio” and a national treasure who changed the way traffic reporting is done. 

During a chat with Ben Edwards, Sally regaled the audience with some of the highlights from a career in which her voice has become well known to millions.

Guild Young Rider of the Year

The Guild’s award recognising rising talent in motorcycle sport went this year to Kyle Ryde, who unfortunately was unable to join us at the event. Kyle spent his early years contesting the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup during which time he became the youngest ever British 125cc Champion. He then won the British National Superstock 600 Championship and his progress up the ranks saw him make his debut in British Superbikes (BSB) in 2017. 

Following a short career break he returned to BSB under the Buildbase Suzuki banner, achieving his first two BSB race wins in 2019. A switch to OMG Racing saw him climbing the ranks in this the premier national championship and in 2023 he took six wins on his way to third overall in the championship behind the dominant works Ducati team.

Guild Young Driver of the Year

Our Young Driver of the Year was also unable to be with us on the night, for the very good reason that he was required at the FIA Awards in Baku, Azerbaijan, to collect his maiden World Champion award in the all-electric Formula E single-seater series.

Like so many of his contemporaries’ Jake Dennis began his racing career in karting at the age of eight, competing in the Cadet British Championship. He went on to win multiple British Karting Championships and the U18 World Karting Championship before moving into single-seaters.

His debut season in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup saw him win the title along with a McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, before further progress into the FIA Formula 3 European Championship brought several race victories. A successful move into GT Racing was followed by a factory drive in the DTM and then Formula E in 2022. Driving for the Avalanche Andretti team, he was the stand-out rookie, winning two races and only just missing out on becoming the first Formula E World Champion that year. Remaining with the team for the 2022-23 season, a string of podium places, including two wins, saw him taking the World Championship 30 points clear of his nearest rival. He finished the year driving a Red Bull F1 car in the first practice session for the season-finale Abu Dhabi GP.

Jake’s award was accepted by his race engineer, Sean McGill, who in a chat with Ben Edwards described his driver as a major talent with many more wins ahead of him.

Guild Outstanding Achievement in Motorsport

The FIA Awards in Baku also claimed the recipient of the Guild’s Outstanding Achievement in Motorsport Award this year, as Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Elfyn Evans was picking up his award for finishing second in the World Rally Championship (WRC), for the third time in four years.

Son of former British Rally Champion Gwyndaf, Elfyn began rallying in 2006 and in the following year started his professional career in the Group N production-car class while also appearing in a WRC car on his home turf, competing in the Wales Rally GB. In 2010 he won both the British Junior Rally Championship, the UK Ford Fiesta Trophy series and the Pirelli Star Driver Shoot-out which included a fully-funded season in a Group N Subaru Impreza. 

In 2012, he secured the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Academy title, the R2 British Rally Championship (BRC) and the UK Fiesta Sport Trophy. In the following year he won the WRC2 class in Wales Rally GB, and in 2016 he took second in the WRC2 title race. Since 2017 he was competed in WRC, winning the Wales Rally GB in that year. He joined Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2020 and teamed up with his current co-driver Scott Martin, in what has proven to be a highly successful pairing. He has three times in four years taken second in the championship and signed off 2023 with victory in Rally Japan, leading a Toyota podium lock-out.

Elfyn’s award was collected by former F1 GP winner John Watson who, reunited with his long-time commentating partner Ben Edwards, discussed the influence of top family dynasties in motorsport.

Guild President’s Trophy

The final award of the evening was the President’s Trophy, the recipient being chosen by our President Nick Mason in consultation with the committee and awarded for an outstanding achievement in the field of International Automobilism.

This year the Trophy honours one of the UK’s best-known and most sought-after international transportation designers, Peter Stevens. He has been responsible for so many iconic vehicles, the best-known road and race designs including the McLaren F1 road car, the 1999 Le Mans-winning BMW, the Lotus Elan and Esprit, Jaguar’s XJR-15, the Subaru Impreza P1 road car as well as the world rally championship-winning Subaru Imprezas. 

During his career, Peter has worked with many of the world’s leading automotive companies and has also worked on railway projects across the world. He is committed to the idea that designers must work creatively with technology.

Among many fascinating points raised during an engaging chat with Ben Edwards, Peter admitted that he designs race and rally cars alongside his road creations because he is impatient; “With road cars you wait three years to see if you are successful and whether the sales people grumble. With a race car you know whether it’s successful in 1 minute 45 seconds.”

All photos by Jakob Ebrey