A crack team of wounded ex-servicemen from the British Armed Forces are to race two custom-designed GT4-spec Jaguar F-Type SVR sportscars in the 2018 and 2019 British GT Championship. The new team is called Invictus Games Racing.
The car becomes the first ever Jaguar Special Vehicle Operations-branded racer to run in an official motorsport series and, while it’s not an official factory racing programme, input from the JLR engineers has been considerable.
Indeed, it’s Jaguar’s first factory-built GT racing car in 50 years.
Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division has spent the past year secretly creating the two new F-Type racers, which have been designed to accommodate each of the driver’s needs. Mission Motorsport, which helps wounded servicemen forge new careers in professional motorsport, conducted six months of trials to find and train four drivers from the Armed Forces to compete.
They will be partnered by two professional British GT Championship drivers: former DTM driver Jason Wolfe will mentor Ben Norfolk and Basil Rawlinson in Car 22, and British GT racer Matthew George will mentor Steve McCulley and Paul Vice.
Their first race will be at Oulton Park on 31 March 2018.
The founder of clothing brand Superdry, James Holder, commissioned Jaguar to build the two GT4-spec F-Types, and has funded the entire project himself. “Our drivers have overcome adversity in the face of injury, shown fierce ambitions in life and possess an incredible drive to succeed,” he said.
“They are perfectly suited for this sport which gives them an outlet for their ambitions. As well as racing against the other GT teams, they will also battle against each other for position and personal pride – like any other racing team.
“We are not under any illusions. Our shared desire and goal is to ultimately win races. This dream won’t happen overnight but during the journey I can promise fans that we will have inspirational drivers, great stories, innovative technology and the coolest looking and sounding cars on the circuit.”
The new racing team is also eager to stress that the wounded servicemen will be competing equally with their fellow British GT rivals – because the cars have been bespoke-built to accommodate them, the series has not had to give any special dispensations.
That’s despite the scale of their in-service injuries; Paul, for example, encountered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) during service; he had 400 pieces of shrapnel removed from his body, and a below-knee amputation. Steve also encountered an IED, which put him in a coma for three weeks. He then had a two-year physical rehabilitation programme to follow.
John Edwards, MD of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, said: It’s appropriate that this specially-commissioned F-Type SVR will be the first SVO-designed race car to hit the track.
“While the F-Type SVR is all about duality – the 200mph all-weather supercar that you can drive every day – this bespoke commission is 100% competition focused.”