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Club News 2006

Another TWO racers join the ever growing Group C/GTP Racing Club

  Martin Birrane - Spice SE86C Hart 418T in 1988 Le Mans livery  
  Very successful in saloons in the 1967-72 era with numerous wins (47) driving everything from Ford Anglias to Fairlines and Mustangs. First in class twice in 1973 with the Porsche Carrera in South Africa.

Raced at Le Mans 10 times with three finishes and a class win in 1985 with the BMW M1. Raced this Hart engined Spice in 1988 with Nick Adams and Richard Jones until transmission problems stopped them after 18 hours.
  As the very successful rescuer of Lola and owner of other race teams, he has an extraordinary pedigree in motor racing.

This Spice SE 86C was bought by Hugh Chamberlain in 1986 and campaigned by him for the next three years (87-98) and occasionally in 1990. The main driver being Nick Adams and also raced by Martin Birrane at Le Mans in 1988 with Nick and Fermin Velez.

The car also formed part of the Chamberlain Team in 1989 that won World Championship Group C (C2) and this car also won the C2 class at Suzuka in 1989 in Kyalami in 1988.

According to engine 'trim' the car is expected to be very competitive as it is very light and has huge turbo power potential for sprint races.

Martin, the current owner of the car, is starting his first race with Group C/GTP Racing at Brands Hatch in June and may be able to join us at Spa, all subject to his very busy racing schedule in 2006. Hugh Chamberlain will again be running the car, which will be a welcome return after his last race with us at Donington in 2003, when he ran Duncan McKay's Spice SE88C with Nick Adams driving.

  Jim Loftis - Mazda 757 - IMSA Class winner at Le Mans 1988  
  Jim Loftis hails from Arlington Virginia and is teaming up for the whole of 2006 with fellow countryman Jim Mullen, who has been a stalwart of Group C/GTP Racing for three years with his fabulous GTP Spice Chevrolet.

Jim Loftis has been racing since 1984 with Porsche Club Racing and the SCCA and ran
  professionally with the USRRC (US Road Racing Assoc) and PRC (Professional Sports Car) the predecessor of the Le Mans Series, taking part in the Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen endurance races.

More recently has run with HSR driving one or more of his prototypes, which include this Mazda, a 1992 Cosworth Spice and a 1985 Porsche 944 GTR.

The Mazdaspeed 757 (chassis 104) car number 203 was the first Japanese car to win a major international championship. It won the IMSA class at the 1988 24 hour Le Mans, finishing 15th overall.

The car was designed by Nigel Stroud and looks like a slightly smaller version of a Porsche 962, carrying a Porsche 962 gearbox and March-Porsche uprights. Power comes from a normally aspirated Mazda three rotor displacing 654cc per rotor, which makes approximately 480 horsepower at 8,500 rpm.

Mazda had entered Le Mans previously with a turbocharged dual rotor March. That effort was unsuccessful. In 1986 Mazda turned to Nigel Stroud who designed the car for the then new IMSA class and two cars were built. The monocoque is aluminium honeycomb/carbon fibre and body is carbon fibre.

In 1986 the two were entered in three international championships. Running in the IMSA class the number 203 car finished its first race at Silverstone sixteenth overall. It was driven by David Kennedy and Yojiro Terada. Neither car completed the 24hour of Le Mans that year. Both had gear box problems. Later they finished thirteenth and fifteenth at the 1000 km of Fuji. Their best finish in the JSPC was fourth.

In 1987 two nearly identical 757's entered Le Mans. One retired early; the other (driven by Kennedy. Galvin and Dieudonne) finished seventh overall, but it was not a class victory.

For 1988 Mazda decided to concentrate the effort on the larger displacement 767 four rotor. Responsibility for the 757 number 203 was given to Team Shizumatsu. Jim Loftis' car, the 757 three rotor Number 203 outlasted the 767 four rotor and all of the other competitors in the IMSA class to bring home a first Le Mans 24-hour class victory for Mazda with Terada, Kennedy and Dieudonne driving and 15th place overall.

Note: With further development the four rotor won Le Mans overall in 1991.

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