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