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Tuesday 12th March 2002


SPORTS RACING AND GT CHALLENGE

Gentlemen racers, huge horsepower and a wonderful variety of cars. This is how racing should be.

If you're looking for a bit of variety on the track and some exciting racingthen you can't go far wrong with a trip to the Sports Racing and GT Challengethis year. It's almost worth going just to see the wonderful variety of carstaking part - many are absolute classics - but then they race too, adding to theexcitement!

Taking a brief look at the field we see both interesting characters andinteresting cars.

The man who won the series in 1998, 1999 and 2000 is Cobra specialist ChengLim who was born in Singapore and has spent his career in the component carindustry. He used to be a development engineer for LR Roadsters, makers of theRAM Cobras and D-Types sprinkled through the SR>C grid. Cheng now runsThunder Road Cars, specialising in a range of special projects includingfinishing Cobra projects for those without time to complete! Cheng's Cobra hasbeen timed at 13.8 seconds 0-100-0 by Autocar and currently runs a 6.6litresmall block Chevrolet engine.

Last season, after a few years break since winning the series in1996 and 1997 Gardner-Douglas returned with the highly experienced Nick Taylorat the wheel. GD encountered a few teething problems but Nick still managed towin every round in England. The series visited Pembrey in Wales twice in 2001and there Cheng prevailed, leaving Nick needing to win Class A at thepenultimate round at Oulton Park. A thrilling race and some 'light contact' leftCheng in the gravel and the title was won by Nick for Gardner-Douglas. Nick is along-standing driver in the Sports Racing and GT Challenge competing in carsranging from the D type Jag to Lola T70 Spyder. The Gardner Douglas Cobra runsan unpainted carbon fibre body shell and has to add almost 100kg of ballast toraise its weight to the class A 1075kg limit

Keep it in the Family

Father and son teams are not unusual in the SR>C with TeamTaylor carrying a  distinctive yellow livery. The team is led by fatherTrevor Taylor in his beautiful GT 40, whilst son Alex runs a 2 litre Alfa Romeoengined Lotus 23 - at most circuits the pair are very evenly matched and havesome great races - Alex commented, "Dad is always faster on thestraights but the Lotus handles very well and wherever it is tight he getsrather upset to see me right behind him or off in front. If I can qualify well,as happened at Brands this year, I generally beat him to it. 2001 wasn't ourbest year with mechanical gremlins and Dad's 160mph shunt at Snetterton but wewill see in 2002! "

Class B is dominated by Jaguars, mostly C, D and E types. HenryLawson started racing in 2000 and took the Class B title in 2001 after somememorable races. He explains "When the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club startedthe Powered by Jaguar series I thought it was too good to miss. I built the DType between 1990 and 1997, which sounds easy until you understand we lived inNew York for four of those years! My father bought an XJ6 in 1975 and when itfailed its MOT on rust I asked to keep the greasy bits. We shipped the Jaguarparts and kit to New York and built the car there. When we returned we got thecar on the road. The conversion to a racing car is extensive and in the firstyear I succeeded in blowing up two engines, but now my VSE engine returns 310bhpreliably and we have been able to get good results despite being heavy at1070kg."

Fighting his way through all the fine British machinery is MikeWalker. He's been racing Porsches for longer than he will admit and cancurrently be found in the SR>C series pitching his highly tuned 911against the mighty V8's. On shorter circuits and in the wet, Mike's experienceat controlling the Porsche pays dividends and he can finish very high in therunning.

In 2002 new driver Rob Downie will join in the festivities. A newcomer toracing, Rob has created a brand new RAM Cobra, built expressly for racing usinga Ford V8. Rob commented "After watching various formulae for manyyears, and having been a fan of Cobras since I was a boy, the cobras just put abig grin on my face which is half the speed and grunt and half the deep burblingnoise from those V8's. I decided now was it."

Knobbly

Having scooped the SR>C Class B win in 2001 in his RAM D-type, HenryLawson decided to launch a bid for Class A in 2002 but did not want to run aCobra, choosing instead to run a Knobbly Lister Chevrolet. As a trial, he ranthe car in 2001 and has substantially revised its specification over the winteradding 10% more power (which with these cars means an extra 60 horsepower!) aswell as revising the chassis and body aerodynamics. It promises to challenge thetypically Cobra dominated class A in SR>C

With a wealth of horsepower on the grid, cars new and old and all sorts ofshapes and sizes, you can be sure of an entertaining race as well as aparticularly jovial paddock at these events. Well worth a visit we reckon.

The Sports Racing and GT Challenge has been a steady part of the British club racing scene since 1988, with 600hp Cobras, GT40's, Porsches and nimble Lotus 23's battling it out in Class A, a field of beautiful C, D and E type Jaguars contesting Class B.

Llightweight Lotus 11's, Ginettas and Davrians often spring surprises in Class C - indeed in 2001, Ken Culverwell in a Lotus 11 walked off with the overall win in the Challenge!

The rather open Class D allows cars not fitting the other classes to get out and race as well - look out in 2002 for some rather exotic mid-engined machinery in Class D. T

Ongoing information about the series can be found at www.srgtc.org.uk

The schedule for 2002 is:

March - Silverstone
Apr 27 - Brands Hatch
May 19 - Cadwell Park
Jun 15 & 16 - Pembrey
Jul 27 - Silverstone
Aug 11 - Snetterton
Sept 1 - Cadwell Park
Sept 14 & 15 - Snetterton
Oct 5 - Oulton Park
Oct 20 - Donnington