Bringing the Jaguar back to British GT, new outfit Invictus Games Racing make an important step into a prominent series and along with it signal a further broadening of inclusivity in motorsport.
The Invictus Foundation was established in 2014 after the first Invictus Games, a brainchild of Prince William following his visit to the Warrior Games in the US in 2013. The foundation governs the Invictus Games, an annual world sporting event where all the competitors are ex service men and women who are ill or have been injured while in the service of their country. The games have become a potent symbol of the fighting spirit of the participants, who have or continue to overcome, physical or mental injury through competitive sport. Following the spirit of the Invictus Games, Superdry clothing co-founder and former British GT competitor James Holder was inspired to get involved in creating a charity project that focused on putting injured veterans in to a top level area of motorsport and demolishing the perception of motorsport as elitist. Invictus Games Racing looks to make motorsport a level playing field for those competing but without sacrificing any of the excitement or challenges to be found in the sport, for the ex armed forces personnel involved.
Mission Motorsport, the armed forces motorsport charity, who have been involved in putting ex service personnel in to many areas of motorsport since 2012, worked alongside Invictus Games Racing to assist in identifying and training suitable team members.
The team will run two Jaguar GT4’s especially adapted for the needs of the drivers and in a unique driver pairing format, a Pro driver will mentor and co drive with two Am ex service personnel drivers who will split driving duties.
Joining the team is American Jason Wolfe, who last year competed in the ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship. Wolfe will partner Ben Norfolk and Basil Rawlinson in car #22. Norfolk, an ex RAF Serjeant and aircraft engineer had completed several tours of Iraq and Afghanistan when an incident while assisting with casualties at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan left a lasting impact. Norfolk was later diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression and was medically discharged in 2017. The 41 year old will compete in the first three rounds of the season at Oulton Park, Rockingham and Snetterton.
Basil Rawlinson ex 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment who also served in Afghanistan was medically discharged in 2014 having had medical leave due to degenerative discs in the spine and was also diagnosed with PTSD. On his return to civilian life Rawlinson set up his own crash helmet spraying business. In 2014 he was selected as an Invictus Games Ambassador for the inaugural games in London. Rawlinson then began an association with Mission Motorsport and gained his International C Race licence last summer, and completes the second half of the British GT rounds.
In the #44 car Matthew George joins the team in the Pro seat. The former Generation AMR SuperRacing driver competed in British GT in 2016 alongside James Holder with whom he also partnered in the GT4 European Series last year.
Joining him is Paul Vice MC(Military Cross) a former Royal Marines Commando who suffered massive injuries after he was subjected to an IED attack while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. Vice had 400 pieces of shrapnel removed and among other serious injuries, sustained damage to his left leg which eventually led to the lower part of the leg being amputated. Prior to the amputation Vice competed in the inaugural Invictus Games winning a gold medal in cycling. He then went on to compete in the 2016 Invictus Games by which time he had undergone the operation to remove the lower part of his leg, but he still returned from Orlando with a huge haul of seven medals(including two golds for 50m Backstroke and 50m Breaststroke as well as four silvers, 2 in cycling, sitting volleyball, 50m freestyle and a bronze in the 100m relay) making him the events most successful male athlete. Vice made the Mission Motorsport Race of Remembrance his first competitive motorsport event and will compete in the second stage of the championship tackling Silverstone, Spa, Brands Hatch and Donington.
The second Am driver is Steve McCulley who also served in the Royal Marines and was very seriously injured by an IED while on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2011. Following his medical discharge he became involved with Mission Motorsport and went on to race in the Caterham Academy in 2014, finishing fourth in the standings. He subsequently went on to compete in the Seven 310R Championship in which he finished third overall in 2017. McCulley has also competed in Mission Motorsports Race of Remembrance and will undertake the first three rounds of the British GT championship.
The season kicks off at Oulton Park, Easter weekend Sat 30th March- Mon 1st April
Images ©Andy Fitzpatrick