Jedi Racing – Taking The Plunge
Taking the step up to
the British GT Championship is always going to be a big challenge,
and for Team Jedi Racing, the challenge was great – new championship,
new car, no experience.
team may be new to GT racing, but its two drivers, Rob Horsfield
and Frazer Corbyn (right), are both used to leading and winning
John Corbyn, built a car for hillclimb competition back in 1984;
the first modern single seater powered by a motorcycle engine. Being
eight years old at the time, Frazer was a Star Wars nut and offered
the name ‘Jedi’ when John asked him what to call the
car (we are grateful that he didn’t suggest ‘Jabba’
or ‘Wookiee’). Since that time, the first car has spawned
its own category and race series - Formula Jedi - and highly successful
it is too.
Devised as a cost effective
introduction to slicks and wings racing, a Formula Jedi car boasts
fully adjustable suspension, a sequential gearbox, 14,000 rpm, 0-60
in a little over three seconds, weighs 310kg and delivers 150bhp.
With this mightily impressive
power-to-weight ratio and Avon control-tyres, this series appeals
to a wide range of racers; 16 year olds just out of karting, serious
club racers, and those just out for a fun weekend of racing. The
age-range is large in this series, with the oldest driver clocking
in at 67 years. The car costs approximately £25,000 and a
full season of racing (16 races at Formula Palmer Audi speeds) can
be had for £5-£10,000. The cars also run in the USA
as D-Sports racers with a sportscar shell.
Despite entering the
family business (Jedi Racing Cars Ltd) after his Star Wars fixation
had ended, Frazer surprisingly didn’t start racing until he
was 23; and he started in hillclimbs, winning the British Leaders
600cc National Hillclimb Championship in 1999.
In 2000 he started circuit
racing in the Monoposto 1200 Championship, taking a win in his first
season before winning the title in both 2001 and 2002. At the same
time, he drove in Formula Honda (Formula Jedi) taking several wins,
despite his car being used as the development drone for the factory.
has known Rob Horsfield (left) since Rob started racing in Formula
600 (Formula Jedi)
in 1997. Rob was another late-starter in racing, not coming to
the sport until he was into his thirties (Rob’s profession
is sales – formerly IT and latterly cars), but he soon
made up for lost time.
Racing his Jedi mainly
in the Monoposto 1200 Championship with a 1000cc engine, he finished
runner-up to Frazer in 2002. When Formula Jedi launched a 1000cc
category in 2003, Rob decided to enter both Championships; 32 races
later, Rob had won 14 of them and taken both crowns.
His 2003 record was one
of the best in any category of national racing; but for 2004, Rob
was looking for a new challenge. He liked the look of the British
GT Championship, as it would give him the opportunity both to race
in a new branch of motorsport and to race against professional drivers.
Thus it was that Rob went shopping for a car at the end of the year.
The last race of the
2003 British GT Championship at Brands Hatch suggested that the
Lotus Elise was a highly competitive car in the Cup class and Rob
had a look to see what was available.
Gavan Kershaw had just
won the Lotus Roadsports Championship and had put his car up for
sale. Rob tested the car, liked what he found and bought it soon
afterwards. Unfortunately, the uncertainty over the Cup class’s
future over last winter meant that development of the car was delayed.
Once that issue was sorted out, however, Rob assembled his team.
Rob asked Frazer to prep.
the car and (despite the project being entirely unconnected to Jedi
Racing Cars) decided on the name Team Jedi Racing, in homage to
his previous car.
There would be two other
key members of the team.
Andy Hoadley is a mechanic
with Jedi Racing Cars and is seemingly condemned to spend every
waking moment working on engines, perhaps owing to some terrible
crime committed in a past life. Thus, he works on Jedis during the
day and the Lotus during his ‘spare time’.
involvement with the project is rather unusual.
A teacher at Weavers
School in Wellingborough, Paul instigated the Lunar Racing project,
whereby the pupils at the school (which has its fair share of ‘inner
city’ problems) prepare and race a Formula Jedi car in the
championship, as a way of focussing their energies in a positive
and constructive manner. Rob and Frazer invited Paul to get involved
with team Jedi and the Weavers pupils (while not directly working
on the car) get more valuable insight and experience in race preparation;
some pupils also help out in the pits at races.
Paul has also made another
unusual contribution to the team, having persuaded former Page Three
model Jakki Degg to support the team, having met her at Autosport
Once the team was assembled,
the car was fitted with a new engine and a Quaife six speed sequential
gearbox. It was also given its new and very distinctive colour scheme.
With valuable support from Central Autos, in the form of race consumables,
the team went racing.
While the season has
been a difficult and often frustrating one for this new team –
the challenge of converting the car from a twenty-minute sprinter
to a one-hour endurance racer has been greater than anyone envisaged
– both drivers and both mechanics are determined to succeed
at this level of motorsport. Let it be noted that the team have
attended every race, often in the face of enormous difficulties,
while several other teams have fallen by the wayside.
Team Jedi Racing is known
as the friendliest team in the paddock, but that is not why they
are there. They want to succeed and get to the front and they deserve
to be there.
We look forward to welcoming
them back in seasons to come.
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