This final part of our review of the GT1 cars that have graced the tracks starts with a car that has a unique distinction in this list!
Essentially a technology demonstrator for drivetrain manufacturer Quaife, after racing an upgraded Ford Escort Cosworth in earlier seasons, the Quaife R4 GTS contested the GT1 class in the British GT Championship in 1998, 1999 and 2001 with few notable results, the Ford V8 powered car though, which did have a single road going sister car, holds a rare place in GT1 history, one of only three cars in this group to feature a four-wheel drive powertrain (the others being the Bugatti EB110 LM and the Ford Escort Cosworth).
Initially conceived as a GT1 with Renault V6 power aboard a coupe version of Renault’s Sport Spider lightweight sportscar.
Failed to qualify for Le Mans in 1996, raced competitively in British GT Championship twice later that year winning one race, failed to prequalify for Le Mans again the following year, by now rebranded as an Helem V6 (See Helem above).
Reclassified as a GT2 thereafter.
A one-off with an amazingly long racing career, originally campaigned (with very little success) in the British GT in 1997 and 1998 by Gary Ward’s RGS Motorsport, the Chevrolet-V8 powered Lamborghini Countach clone was then sold on for further use in the All-Japan GT Championship in 2000, failing to qualify for the four races it attempted to in 2000 before re-emerging in 2003 in GT300!
The Steve Saleen badged, initially RML in the UK developed, V8 powered behemoth provided the GT1 outlier in the early years of the third iteration of GT1 (GTS). Further developed in its latter years by ORECA the cars would have a decade long career from 2000 to 2010 with domestic titles in the UK, Spain and France, and class wins at Le Mans and Sebring. You can read more about the cars HERE
The Sard MC8-R was a modified and lengthened version of the second generation Toyota MR2 built by Toyota’s SARD (Sigma Advanced Research Development) works team powered by a twin-turbo 4 litre V8.
One MC8 road car was built in order to meet homologation requirements.
The cars raced only at Le Mans and in the Suzuka 1000kms, contesting Le Mans in both 1995 and 1996, failing to pre-qualify in ’97, each effort with a single car.
1995 also saw a single-car entry at Suzuka with the 1997 race seeing a two-car entry the race part of the FIA GT Championship that year.
Judd V10 powered carbon chassied one-off that competed in the 1999 British GT Championship , taking a single race win despite a lack of testing and development. Also contested the 1998 ALMS race at Laguna Seca as team owner Richard Austin searched for a customer base as GT1 melted down. You can learn more about the car HERE
Big V8 power in compact lightweight chassis, another left-field British sportscar the has featured in multiple classes in multiple, mainly national, series proving to be competitive at times against much bigger names.
Has featured in British GT, Belcar, Canadian GT, Euro GT, Dutch Supercars etc.
An endurance version of their GT500 JGTC Supra gave Toyota a conservative package for the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours, with an uprated 2.1-litre turbo 4 pot but with the car overweight compared to its GT1 class opposition, it would finish 14th overall, 8th in GT1.
A revised, lighter, more aero-efficient evolution of the Supra LM was back at Le Sarthe in ’96 but would crash out.
There was one other appearance of the car in LM spec, a two-car official factory entry on the streets of Zhuhai in 1995 with no real success.
Saw through the transition from the second phase of the GT1 era into GTP 1998/99, with two years of appearances at Le Mans in both 1998 and 1999 with three cars apiece scoring a second-place finish in its final year after its sole-remaining runner suffered a late-race puncture.
One car raced in the 1999 Fuji 1000km finishing second to Nissans factory-entered R391 LMP900 car.
TVR’s first attempt at a GT1 entry competed in a part season of the British GT Championship in 1998 with a best result of 4th.
The Speed 12 concept moved on to the Cerbera body shape for 2000 and the first of what would eventually be two race cars made its debut in the British GT Championship.
The car was shatteringly quick but had shakey reliability taking a handful of race wins across its four-year career in the British Championship.
The Ultima chassis was a versatile platform accommodating a variety of powertrains. Amongst those who took big V8 power to try to slay giants n their class were the late lamented Colin Blower who, when budgets allowed in 2001/2, and the car co-operated, looked ready, willing and able to take very big scalps indeed in his self-built and prepped Ultima, the company based in the same town (Hinckley) as Blower’s highly effective race engineering concern.
Earlier in British GT history, Chas Berger’s turbo Ford V6 powered GTR (below) saw some competitive running too.
Others saw service in Euro GT and Belcar with some success.
The ultimate evolution of the one-make car that bought Stephane Ratel into the world of GT racing, by 1994 the Venturi had improved aero, reduced weight and a 600bhp version of the turbocharged 3 litre PRV V6.
It was good enough for race wins in 1994 in BPR, but not for finishes at Le Mans.
By the following year the game had moved on and it wouldn’t be enough any more in deliverable power refinement or reliability to go toe to toe with the top performers in GT1.
All the Venturis entered at Le Mans in 1995 were again non-finishers or not classified.
You can find part 1 of this series Here >>
Part 2 of this series can be found Here >>
Part 3 of this series can be found Here >>
Part 4 of this series can be found Here >>
With thanks to John Brooks, David Lord, Marcus Potts, Regis Lefebure, David Downes, Peter May, David Lister, Jeremy Jackson and Racingsportscars.com for pics