Tuscan Challenge Concludes
The TVR Tuscan Challenge has provided an entry into GT racing for an impressive number of British drivers, but an emotional announcement to the teams at the Thruxton F3/GT meeting, from long time co-ordinator John Reid, gave the not unexpected news that TVR has signalled an end to the current format – after a 16 year run.

From its beginnings in 1989 with the original Rover-engined cars and then onto the current 450 bhp 4.5 litre AJP V8 powered Tuscans, the Challenge has seen the likes of Ian Flux, Colin Blower, Martin Short, Mike Jordan, Michael Caine, Ian McKellar Jr, Jamie Campbell-Walter, Bobby Verdon-Roe, Phil Hindley, Steve Hyde, Richard Stanton, Chris Stockton and Lee Caroline (amongst others) graduate to GT racing - and in some cases beyond. David Mason was the latest to take the step up, sharing driving duties with Rollcentre boss Martin Short in the Cup Class Noble at Thruxton.

As a mark of just how significant a stepping stone the Challenge has been, the recent Spa 1000 Kms saw six ex-Challenge contenders on the LMES grid (including two previous champions), plus 1997 champion Bobby Verdon-Roe starting in the Classic Endurance Race.

dailysportscar.com2000 champion (and 1999 co-champion) Michael Caine (right), was quick to explain the significance of the Challenge.

“The nature of the car, massive power and limited grip meant that the pace and the driving style prepared you well for GT racing. It’s easy to forget now that the series ran almost at Touring Car levels of preparation and had a massive backing from spectators too. I can remember a grid of over 40 cars raced here (at Spa) one year and the standard of driving was fabulous. Don’t forget that a ‘world’ GT champion (Jamie Campbell-Walter) never won the Challenge. I’m enormously proud to have won it but I’m even more proud of my 1999 season, everybody was in it that year.”

Bobby Verdon-Roe was surprised at the announcement and agreed that the Challenge had provided a big step up for a whole generation of British drivers.

“Big grunty cars, close racing, there was nothing else out there like it and there doesn’t appear to be anything about to step into its place.”

A replacement series is being planned: a multi-class championship, with the current cars running as the top class, but joined by other TVRs, such as the Sagaris and T350.

The existing Tuscan Challenge will come to an end at Brands Hatch on October 2-3. Lee Caroline is favourite to take the title honours.
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