Motorsport News



The all-disabled team has just taken its first British GT overall podium and has Le Mans, and much else besides, in its sights as Graham Keilloh discovers

The most recent British GT round, held at Spa-Francorcha­mps in late July, had a milestone result. The Team Brit McLaren 570S GT4 raced by Bobby Trundley and Aaron Morgan finished third in the GT4 contest and first in GT4 Pro-Am. It was the team’s first British GT class win and its first overall podium, achieved in its debut British GT campaign after expanding from Britcar.

It also wasn’t a result that owed to excessive attrition or similar; Trundley in his race-concluding stint held off then moved clear of none other than three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner and, despite traction control problems, finished only 2.3 seconds behind second place.

And, as is increasing­ly well known, Team Brit is no ordinary racing team.

It’s an all-disabled squad – Trundley was diagnosed with severe autism as a child and Morgan is paraplegic following a motocross accident. And the team’s aim in 2024 is to be the first British all-disabled entry at Le Mans.

“It’s just been an incredible season so far,” Morgan tells Motorsport

News. “Going into round one everybody within the team, Bobby and I and all the mechanics, knew it’s going to be a huge step up from the racing we’ve done previously.

“But we’ve shown with every round we’ve been to this year we’re getting better and better and closer and closer to the frontrunne­rs which culminated with [the Spa result]. I’m never going to forget that weekend am I?

“Spa has really boosted the whole team. Maybe at the start of the season there was a bit of nerves, but now we’ve also achieved our maiden win, maiden podium, there’s a real belief in the team now, we’ve done it once so we can go out and do it again.”

The team’s commercial director Mike Scudamore agrees. “We always knew the standard was going to be high in British GT4, but it was exceptiona­lly high,” he notes to MN. “We’re racing against the very best in the country. Which is good, if we’re going to get to Le Mans we have to test ourself against the very best, so the fact that Darren Turner’s in our class and who is a Le Mans winner, there’s a great yardstick.

“Every race we’ve done we’ve improved, we find ways to make the pitstops better, smoother, make sure our processes are better. We’re really looking forward to what the future holds for Team Brit.

“It’s been our most successful season so far. We’ve invested, we have a great crew here, they’ve progressed with the team as well. So most of the crew have been with us as we’ve gone through Britcar Trophy, British Endurance and then stepping up to British GT.”

And the intended final step before Team Brit’s planned 2024 Le Mans entry is British GT’s frontrunni­ng GT3 contest next season.

“That’s probably the natural progressio­n for us,” Scudamore explains, “it very much depends on funding. It’s a big step change, we probably need about a half a million pound jump in budget to be able to achieve that because we’ve got to be able to acquire a car, find the budget and run the car in addition to the funding we have from the drivers.

“And what we always like to do at

Team Brit is to do things properly. So if we haven’t got the money to do things properly then I prefer not to do it, take a second season maybe in British GT or GT4 to be able to capitalise on the experience we’ve gained, get the drivers up to an even higher standard so when we are in position to make the leap to GT3 we’re in the strongest possible position for us to do so.”

In this ongoing pursuit of investment, racing in British GT certainly has helped the team’s profile. Morgan explains: “Competing in such a prestigiou­s championsh­ip as British GT, the viewing figures are hell of a lot higher, the number of fans that attend each race is significan­tly higher than Britcar is, so that’s helped push the profile of the team up, now a lot more people

“People now know who Team Brit are”

Mike Scudamore

have seen and heard of us, it’s really cool.

“British GT do pitlane autograph sessions, that’s really helped boost the outreach of the team just by more people hearing of us.

“It’s been great, every fan met this year have always been incredibly positive.

A lot don’t realise, they see us out on the track, [say] ‘oh they’re doing really well’, and then you come into the pits and he’s in a wheelchair, in Bobby’s case he’s autistic, and it makes their appreciati­on for what we’re doing on the track a hell of a lot more. I tend to try and explain to people that I meet how I drive the car and then I say next time you see me out on the track just do it in your head, try and visualise how I’m actually controllin­g the car, and a lot of them go ‘it’s way above my head’, it’s quite funny.”

Scudamore adds: “One of the biggest difference­s I’ve found when approachin­g customers or companies now is they know who Team Brit are, so it’s not like ‘Team Brit, we’re a racing team but all our drivers are disabled’, and that’s fantastic testament to the work that goes on [at the team].” Team Brit has featured recently on Blue Peter, Channel 4 and Sky News.

“It’s very difficult to go out into the marketplac­e to get sponsorshi­p, so being part of Team Brit certainly helps that,” Scudamore continues, “people have heard of Team Brit now, they want to do the right thing, we help to position brands as leaders in disability positivity, all those things that are really important in the corporate world these days.

“Brands have budgets to spend on these kind of things but there’s also lots of other people with their hand out looking for them to be sponsored as well.

“One of the big positives when it comes to selling this opportunit­y, there’s nothing else like us. We’re not a charity, we make a big point about that, we don’t want to be treated any differentl­y to any other race team, we don’t want to be given any special favours, we want to compete on a level playing field [with able-bodied people on track], and that goes the same from a commercial standpoint.”

Yet even getting to Le Mans won’t be the end of matters for Team Brit. “It’s not a case of stopping there,” Scudamore says, “we want to be able to build a sustainabl­e platform for disability motorsport that’s also self-sustaining.”

With the easing of Covid restrictio­ns Team Brit has reopened its academy.

And the academy’s initial step is the equivalent of a Silverston­e driving experience for an able-bodied person, wherein people visit the team’s base and get time on its simulator using Team Brit’s specially designed hand controls, then they go out on track – the team’s HQ is right next to the famous Top Gear Dunsfold circuit – in its Volkswagen Polo that has exactly the same controls.

But this fun day for the participan­t doubles as driver scouting for the team, as via these it identifies who has the aptitude to take their racing further. And Team Brit offers a clear progressio­n first with its BMW 118i then the BMW M240i racing in Britcar Trophy, then its Aston Martin GT4 in the British Endurance Championsh­ip, then the McLaren in British GT. As noted the team’s seeking to add a couple of rungs above these too.

And in line with motorsport reality, it’s not only about the driving. Racing has to be paid for, often by the driver. And Team Brit helps here too.

“Nothing’s for free, we don’t provide free racing,” Scudamore says, “that’s not particular­ly helpful for anybody, you need to be able to earn your space in our team.

“Our corporate sponsors help to subsidise the racing, provide the specialist equipment and technology for the cars, and then the drivers pay a subsidised fee to be able to take part. So part of my role is working with the drivers to train them up and give them some real-world sponsorshi­p experience so that they can go to market and try and find those.

“Quite often with the drivers it might be local companies where they live, in their vicinity or they have family connection­s, and I’ll help them to monetise those opportunit­ies. Because somebody might say I’d love to help, but ‘love to help’ might be I’ll come and hold your water bottle on a race weekend or it might say I want to give you 50 grand, so it’s trying to make sure that we maximise all of those opportunit­ies for drivers, so they have the best chance of progressin­g.

“Because if you can get a sponsor early, and they have a great time, they’ll want to follow you through your career. Because let’s be honest, it starts cheaper at the bottom end and gets slightly more expensive at the top, so being able to work with the drivers to build confidence so they can go to market and find those backers makes a huge difference.”

Morgan for one is testament to the opportunit­ies Team Brit offers: “This year, round one was the halfway point of me being able bodied and then spending half my life in a wheelchair. So if you told me 15-and-a-half years ago when I was lying on my hospital bed in this many years’time you’ll be racing a McLaren GT4 car in the biggest GT championsh­ip here in the UK I wouldn’t have believed you. So then to follow that on and have the opportunit­y to race the GT3 car I just feel so lucky to be in this position.” ■

 ?? ?? Morgan and Trundley got class win and P3
Morgan and Trundley got class win and P3
 ?? ?? First step in Team Brit’s academy is trying its hand controls on sim
First step in Team Brit’s academy is trying its hand controls on sim
 ?? ?? Spa result was culminatio­n of consistent improvemen­t during year
Spa result was culminatio­n of consistent improvemen­t during year
 ?? ?? Scudamore is looking ahead
Scudamore is looking ahead
 ?? ?? The Team Brit crew has grown together
The Team Brit crew has grown together
 ?? ?? Trundley pulled clear of Turner
Trundley pulled clear of Turner

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom