T400R – Half
A Decade Up Against The Rest
With the 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours entry list already featuring Spyker
and Panoz (as well as Ferrari) challengers to the seven year winning
streak of the Porsche 911 GT3 R/RS/RSR story there is one name
missing (so far) which has added passion, drama (and not a few
spectators) to the great race for the past three years.
The TVR T400R has always added a certain something to GT2 racing,
a car that has succeeded almost despite the sum of its parts: an
in-house engine programme combined with the definite air that the
project reflected the finest traditions of British specialist sportscar
With just one of the TVR T400R (nee Tuscan R) racers now active
and with that team as eager as ever to attract the attention of
the ACO, and by the by campaigning a full season of Le Mans Series
racing once again too, it is perhaps apt to look back on the career
so far of the T400R.
total of seven racing chassis were
the period 2001 – 2004,
with the British GT Championship as the launch pad for the
project and the Le Mans 24 Hours as a
car grew out of the factory’s success with the Tuscan
Challenge and it was through this route that the teams and the
drivers that would form the core of the TVR move into GT racing
The first Tuscan R found its way into the hands of Richard Stanton
and Race Sports Salisbury, a link which carried on through to 2005,
with Stanton still very much involved with the car.
The Tuscan R was a success on two fronts in its debut season:
it was an immediate hit with the fans, the straight six adding
a special something in the aural stakes, and it was a success on
track too, taking a class win at Castle Combe (Stanton and Steve
Hyde) in its debut season.
next car to see the light of day was Rollcentre Racing’s
version, the Tuscan R replacing the much loved and admired Cerbera
Speed 6, which had marked Martin Short’s team’s debut
in GT racing. Rollcentre seemed to revel in the Cerbera’s
ability to humble the new Tuscan R whilst their own car was still
in build, but all too soon it was clear that the new car was the
thing to have, the Cerbera was retired and Shorty and his sidekick
Rob Barff chalked up another pair of wins in the 2001 season -
making a trio of race wins in the T400R’s debut season.
Major Results - 2001
British GT Championship
DeWalt – 1
win, 2 second places, 2 third places and 1 pole position
Racing – 2
wins, 1 second place, 3 pole positions
saw a third car join in the fun. It was first seen in public
Championship Media Day, being towed down the
pitlane behind a quadbike. It had been delivered direct from the
Blackpool factory and it was the most orange car on the face of
the planet! Eclipse Motor sport’s TVR had entered the building!
This car was to prove a very significant piece in the dsc jigsaw
in our first full year (2002) when it became apparent at that very
same event, at a cold and wind Silverstone circuit, that Eclipse
had just lost a significant sponsor.
solution was obvious – a
new Orange Car and a new Orange website. It was a match made
in heaven and the car raced for almost
the entire season with all-over dailysportscar branding.
The car was immediately on the pace but suffered appalling luck,
never worse than when the team posted its first ever overall win,
at Knockhill, only to be disqualified for a technical infringement,
one that had given them no advantage whatsoever. The best of the
(then) trio though was still the Rollcentre car: four wins and
three second places were to take the Short / Pullan pair to the
brink of the title at the last round at Donington Park, before
mechanical woes brought an emotional end to a quite stunning season.
the bargain meanwhile, the Rollcentre car took in the T400R’s
first ever international race start with a popular (with Japanese
fans) and successful run in the Suzuka 1000kms, producing a class
was however another infamous T400R / dsc ‘happening’ during
the 2002 season. The opening round took place at Brands Hatch’s
Grand Prix circuit on 1 April. dsc (and its predecessors) enjoy
the opportunity every year to use the excuse of All Fools Day to
poke a bit of well intentioned fun at some of our favourite (and
sometimes not so favourite) teams and drivers.
debuting Simon Pullan was a shy but stunningly quick young
man back then,
and the dsc
team just couldn’t resist pulling
his leg. A David Lord shot at Dingle Dell caught the young man ‘getting
air’ and a bit of skilful Marcus Potts photoshopping created
what has become something of an internet legend, entirely believable
and absolutely incredible. Martin Short’s first sight of
it elicited a furious response, which almost saw his new young
charge leave the team before he started a race!
John Hartshorne was now the owner of the first chassis, and he
and Piers Johnson started out very sensibly, with a couple
of early fourth places in class.
Major Results 2002
British GT Championship
Rollcentre – 4
wins, 3 second places, 1 third place, 2 pole positions
Eclipse 1 win (but dsq), 1 third place
Race Sports 3 third places
Rollcentre – second
saw another step forward and two more cars taking to the track.
Stanton’s original car running under
John Hartshorne’s Peninsula TVR banner, Stanton was back
with a renewed attack, this time with a pair of brand new T400Rs – target
opening task was to take one of the new DeWalt liveried cars to Sebring – and impress the ACO and finish the race. Oh
how the seasoned observers laughed! Sebring’s combination
of a punishingly bumpy surface, high temperatures and a grid full
of world class GT2 teams would surely leave the quaint ‘Brits’ in
their wake: this was serious, this was a car breaker. The TVR was
going to fail!
it didn’t. Despite suffering huge cockpit temperatures
(a result of a misjudged decision to leave the car’s fixed
windows in place on a very steamy day) the car had just one problem,
a faulty battery at the very end of the race, and it finished a
hugely impressive sixth in class, with a very red faced driving
squad of Stanton, Steve Hyde and Rob Barff scarcely able to believe
the scale of the achievement.
in the British Championship It was Eclipse’s turn to
shine. The Rollcentre car had been sold to another ex-Tuscan Challenge
racer, Gareth Evans, and was now in the care of Burt Taylor’s
Eclipse was up against a Mosler MT900R double whammy from Rollcentre
and Balfe Motorsport and the start of the season saw the scoresheet
swing dramatically in favour of the pair of big V8 supercars. Mid-season
though and the Piers Johnson / Shane Lynch pairing was beginning
to come good. They scored a famous win at Silverstone (along with
Ben McLoughlin) to win the historic British Empire Trophy. That
race also produced a result which is now unlikely ever to be matched,
with the Peninsula and CDL cars following the Eclipse T400R home
for a TVR clean sweep of the podium.
There was another 1-2 for TVR though, this time at Castle Combe,
a race which saw all five cars then in existence start the race.
The 1-2 was a clean sweep for the DeWalt pair, returning home after
a disappointing Le Mans which saw one car eliminated early in the
race as the result of an errant WR, and the second finally succumbing
after a huge effort by Michael Caine, to bring the broken car back
to the pits, finally failed.
now there was another significant T400R fact to note. Richard
five cars so far built in race action – starting
out with the first chassis, sampling the Rollcentre car at Suzuka
and completing the 2002 season aboard the Eclipse car, before coming
back with his De Walt liveried pair.
Back to the race action though and with a further race win at
Oulton Park and a host of podiums for Eclipse, the scene was about
to be set for an epic finale to the British season. The final round
of the 2003 championship was at Brands Hatch and there were three
cars still in with the chance of a championship win. The Eclipse
TVR was the outsider: both Moslers would have to fall by the wayside
if the Blackpool rocket was to score a famous win.
was however another factor at play – the DeWalt cars
were back, now passed from Richard Stanton to Bob Berridge, and
it was Berridge who played the first decisive role. Lap two,
Turn One, Paddock Hill Bend and there was decisive contact.
dust settled it was game over for the Balfe Mosler.
Eclipse meanwhile was flying high and looked set to make life
exceedingly difficult for the Rollcentre Mosler. It was not to
be however. A spinning Marcos Mantis backmarker (ironically only
racing because Eclipse had lent the team the engine) looked set
to roll one way, but instead went the other. Shane Lynch chose
the wrong gap to go for and the subsequent tap sent the T400R into
the barriers, hard. It was the end of the race and a fine championship
run for the Eclipse Motorsport car: Tom Herridge would power to
the title in the Mosler.
Major Results 2003
British GT Championship
Eclipse – 2
wins, 1 second place and 4 third places
Walt Racing Race Sports – 1 win, 1 second place and 2
Peninsula – 1
CDL 1 third place
Sebring 12 hours
Dewalt 6th in class
Le Mans 24 Hours
De Walt 2 x DNF
would see TVRs racing both at home and away once more. Eclipse’s
car scored a win at Oulton Park but was unable to mount a serious
title challenge. (The car did win a second time however in a Britcar
GT Open race at Donington Park with John Griffiths and Chris Ryan
taking charge in the car’s last competitive outing to date).
There was however a new chapter to add to the T400R story, and
it was copper coloured!
RSR Racing arrived with first one and then a pair of brand new,
copper-painted T400Rs funded by Lawrence Tomlinson and pedaled
by the team owner and the evergreen Nigel Greensall. The first
car almost took a race win on its debut at a greasy Donington Park
but thereafter luck rather deserted the squad.
was though by now a real movement towards taking the T400R
competition. The DeWalt cars were now in the
hands of Gareth Evans, under the banner of Chamberlain Synergy
Racing – the Chamberlain part of that equation presenting
itself in the not insubstantial shape of Hugh Chamberlain.
cars appeared at Sebring once again in a beautiful purple
livery and in a new ‘wide-track’ guise – a
work of engineering art from Dave Lampitt. Despite a troubled
both cars drove to the finish and in June, with one car effectively
being run by the RSR squad, the feat was repeated at the Le Mans
24 Hours too. 8th and 9th in class and a full 72 hours of racing
across the two endurance classics and two cars.
In the Donington Park FIA GT round we saw one car each from the
Chamberlain Synergy and RSR squads. The TVRs also made their presence
felt in the LMES with both the purple cars and the (now once again
yellow and black) Racesports car both scoring good finishes. There
was the potential for more however, but a wildly spinning Pierre
Kaffer in an Audi R8 all but destroyed one of the purple cars at
the Bus Stop at Spa, on a weekend when the cars had been showing
true class leading pace.
Major Results 2004
British GT Championship
Eclipse – 1
win, 2 third places
RSR – 2
Sebring 12 Hours
Chamberlain Synergy - 12th and 16th in class
Le Mans 24 Hours
Chamberlain Synergy - 8th and 9th in class
Donington Park FIA GT
RSR 6th in class
Synergy 11th in class
6th – Chamberlain
7th - Racesports
The close season saw the now traditional shuffling of the T400R
pack. This time though one team would be grabbing all the aces.
Tomlinson had bought the two purple cars and these, plus his two
would form the rolling stock for the ‘new
for 2005’ Team LNT – all in narrow track guise.
It would be a joint British GT and LMES season for the newly purple
and orange liveried TVRs
season started with a two car entry for Sebring which sadly
saw a catalogue
ruin the team’s opening weekend,
despite a star studded driver lineup and an equally able engineering
LNT’s programme was punishing – four cars, Sebring,
LMES, British GT Championship and the Tourist Trophy FIA GT race
at Silverstone – oh and a double application to Le Mans too
In the British Championship the cars were super quick, but the
Scuderia Ecosse Ferraris were just a wee bit quicker and it was
with a sense of frustration that the team withdrew from the series
mid season, after falling foul of the notoriously tough (especially
for cars with a side exhaust outlet) noise restrictions at Castle
then though the team’s
season had hit its highest high, with an impressive and historic
1-2 finish in the opening 1000km
race of the European season at Spa Francorchamps. They followed
this up with a podium finish in the GT2 class at the Tourist Trophy
meeting of the FIA GT Championship at Silverstone.
though came the lowest low – a quite unfathomable
decision not to invite either of the Team LNT cars to join the
entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The Peninsula TVR squad meanwhile was pressing on, in the very
first of the T400R chassis, with a full LMES season of its own
and it was the Peninsula / racesports name that came out when the
ACO opened the golden envelope containing the entry list for the
John Hartshorne and his merry men were surprised and delighted
and their solo representation of the marque did not disappoint
the TVR faithful. Despite a troubled race the Hartshorne / Stanton
/ Piers Johnson trio finished the race and only failed to post
a classified finish by just a couple of laps. In the LMES, they
raced steadily and efficiently and posted a pair of sixth places
plus a pair of sevenths, in a season of model consistency.
Major Results 2005
British GT Championship
Team LNT 2 second places, 1 third place
Team LNT 9th and 10th in class (Unclassifed)
LNT – First
Le Mans 24 hours
Race Sports 7th in class (Unclassified)
Silverstone FIA GT
LNT Third in class
Race Sports 2 sixth places, 2 seventh places
So where are the T400Rs now?
The ex Rollcentre car is still with Bert Taylor and has not been
seen in public for almost two years.
car is still with the team but a reasonable offer to John Griffiths
would likely persuade the team to part
with the car!
ex-Chamberlain Synergy, ex Bob Berridge / Gareth Evans cars now
reside with Team LNT, alongside the ex RSR pair.
leaves just one – ironically chassis no.1, which remains
in the ownership of John Hartshorne - determined to return to Le
Mans to post another race finish for the car, perhaps the last
hurrah for a marque which undoubtedly has played a massive part
in rejuvenating the class - and without which it would have held
far less appeal for lovers of the plucky underdog. Go on ACO – the
crowds love it!