A group of wounded, injured and sick British veterans will compete in the 2018 British GT Championship as part of a brand new Invictus Games Racing team.
The team will race in specially-designed Jaguar sports cars, allowing them to inspire others to embrace the Invictus Games ethos of triumph over adversity.
British veterans Ben Norfolk and Basil Rawlinson will race in Car 22, mentored by professional driver Jason Wolfe, while Steve McCulley and Paul Vice will race in Car 44 mentored by Matthew George.
The full six-man team, plus one of their Jaguar supercars, have now been revealed at the Autosport International Racing Car Show at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre (see above to find out more).
They'll spend the beginning of 2018 training ahead of the British GT season, which starts on March 31 at Oulton Park.
South African-born Basil Rawlinson, an Afghanistan veteran of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, was discharged in 2014 after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a number of degenerative discs in his back. He said:
"I am hugely grateful to Invictus Games Racing for giving me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race in the British GT Championships.
"I am most looking forward to the thrill of competition and the opportunity to be part of a tight team – both things that were integral during my time in the Parachute Regiment."
"I hope to broaden my knowledge of motorsport and to achieve a podium finish, which would be incredible. I look forward to the year ahead and want to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Ben Norfolk, who'll race alongside him in Car 22, served on several operational tours to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Royal Air Force sergeant and suffers from complex PTSD, anxiety and depression.
He said: "I have been humbled by how many people have dedicated their time, energy and expertise into this journey... Thank you. That support helps me to push further than I ever thought I could."
Former Royal Marines Commando Paul Vice MC suffered a traumatic brain injury, resulting in paralysis of his right arm, and had a leg amputated below the knee following his fourth tour of Afghanistan.
He went on to become the most successful male athlete at the 2016 Invictus Games winning seven medals, including two golds. He said:
"With an amazing team around me, both at home and on the track, I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring. Joy, smiles, laughter, pain or tears - I am ready."
He'll be joined in Car 44 by Major Steve McCulley, who was nearly killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) 17 years after joining the Royal Marines in Afghanistan. He said:
"I am extremely excited to be joining the Invictus Games Racing Team and competing in the British GT Championships this year."
Thanks to their bespoke cars, the wounded drivers will compete equally with their able-bodied counterparts.
The team came about through a collaboration between James Holder, co-founder of clothing brand Superdry and the Invictus Games Foundation.
Holder commissioned Jaguar's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division to develop and build two bespoke F-TYPE SVR racing cars to GT4 specification for the Invictus Games Racing drivers to compete in.
The vehicles, funded by Holder, were in top-secret development for over a year under his guidance. He said:
"As well as representing their incredible profession, the drivers will be an inspiration and a sign of empowerment to those who have been wounded, injured or become sick during or as a direct result of their service."
He added: "Invictus Games Racing will enable ex-servicemen and women who have experienced physical or psychological trauma during service to compete against each other and the rest of the top-level racing field, in cars that are tailor-made for them.
"We wanted to give these men and women the chance to compete in a professional racing competition with the established teams.
"Motor racing is often seen as elitist and our vision is to open the sport up to all wounded, injured and sick service personnel supported by the Invictus Games Foundation - including their families...
"Our drivers have overcome adversity in the face of injury, shown fierce ambitions in life and possess an incredible drive to succeed. They are perfectly suited for this sport which gives them an outlet for their ambitions."
Fans can follow Invictus Games Racing on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for regular updates on the team's progress.
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