Riley & Scott MKIII
ARGUABLY JAGUAR’S MOST ICONIC AND SUCCESSFUL MODEL & ONE OF THE FINEST 1950S SPORTS RACING CARS EVER BUILT
JUST 71 D-TYPES WERE CONSTRUCTED BY JAGUAR IN PERIOD
XKD 545 WAS RACED BETWEEN 1956 -1964 IN AMERICA, THE BAHAMAS AND CANADA
RACED IN THE 1956 SEBRING 12 HOURS & NASSAU SPEED WEEK
WINNER OF THE 1956 WATKINS GLEN SPORTS CAR GRAND PRIX
FABULOUS PROVENANCE WITH CONTINUOUS HISTORY FROM NEW, AND PRESENTED NOW IN SUPERB CONDITION WITH EXTENSIVE SPARES
When think about some of the most dominant cars of all time in sportscar racing, your mind would automatically switch to the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Toyota and Audi. You would be correct to think of these brands, but we can almost guarantee that Riley & Scott never came to mind. This could be because they were only in motorsport for a short period of time, or that they were a small family-owned business without major manufacturer funding. However, that does not change the fact that in the second half of the 1990’s, they dominated sports car racing in America.
1993 saw the end of what is one of the greatest eras of sports car racing, the ‘Group C’ era. It was always going to be a tough job replacing the magnitude of manufacturers that both Group C and GTP gathered on the grid. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and for IMSA, this silver lining would come in the form of a small family run manufacturer from America called ‘Riley & Scott’. This new change in regulation saw the might of Ferrari spring an attempt to regain control at the top of the motorsport mountain, but what they did not account for was their biggest rival being a company they most likely had no prior knowledge of. Riley & Scott debuted their initial design, called the MkIII, during the 1993 IMSA season. Rob Dyson would be the first of many other teams to take a gamble on the underdog. Rob bought two new MkIII’s to run in the 1995 IMSA Championship. Built in only four months, the first car would take to the track at the legendary Daytona 24 Hours. However, two races come and go, and with no hint of success on the horizon, doubts about the great American dream begin to creep in. That is until race three of the calendar came about. Not only did the Riley & Scott take the win, but also took the fastest lap, leaving the Ferrari 333 SP’s to fight for second and third. Now it would almost be too easy to say that from this race onwards, the MKIII would go on to dominate the next 5 years… but the stage would indeed be shared between the might of Ferrari and the diminutive but mighty outfit from Riley and Scott
Now a claim of being one of the most dominant cars in a sportscar era cannot be made without evidence to back it up. Luckily for the MKIII there is substantial evidence. After a challenging debut year in the IMSA championship, 1996 would present a completely different story. For starters, Dyson would not be the only team running the MKIII. As the car started to display more and more potential, more teams placed orders for cars. Teams such as Lee Payne racing and Doyle Racing also opted to run the MKIII. IMSA have a unique calendar where the first event of the year is not only the toughest on the car, but is also the most important race of the season. Luckily for any MKIII teams this posed little concern, as the cars had shown fantastic reliability. Indeed it was one of the new teams (Doyle Racing) who bought home the win in their Ford powered MKIII, with a winning margin of over a minute from the nearest 333 SP which came home in second. Continuing the trend, IMSA placed the second race of the season at Sebring for the world famous 12 Hours. Once again, the MKIII showed a dominant display of both pace and reliability as it took the win by a staggering four laps, embarrassing the Ferrari teams. It was not only in America though where the MKIII’s potential would be displayed. In 1996, the brand took on one the most famous races in the world… the Le Mans 24hrs. Representing what America had to offer to the racing world, the MKIII qualified only a second off the overall pole position in 1996, however the car hit mechanical problems during the race. In 1998, the MKIII would go back to Le Mans to show what it could do against its European rivals where it qualified between the Ferrari’s and behind the European GT1 cars. The following year in 1999, three MKIII could be seen tearing around the Circuit De La Sarthe. The difference in 1999 compared to previous years is the competition the MKIII was up against. Throughout its entire life, the MKIII had one major competitor in America, Ferrari’s 333 SP. However, when 1999 came about, the number of manufacturers in the LMP1 category had dramatically increased. The MKIII was suddenly competing against the might of Lola, Courage, Ferrari, BMW, Panoz, Nissan and Audi. The majority of these brands had substantially more experience around Le Mans and came prepared which much newer machinery, with larger budgets. Regardless of this, the MKIII held its own when up against the newer cars, until all three cars had to retire due to mechanical issues.
The Riley & Scott MKIII was the ultimate giant killer in its era of motorsport. It showed the American dream was possible for a lot of supporters. Showing that a manufacturers budget such as Ferrari is not all it takes to win the majority of endurance racing’s major races over and over. The MKIII had a staggering eight-year racing career which out lasted every other car it came up against throughout its racing life. Not only did the MKIII outlast these cars, but it also beat them as it took a total of over 30 wins in its career around the world. This tally of course included multiple Daytona 24hr and Sebring 12hr wins.
This car was the third car produced by Riley & Scott and was originally delivered to Payne Racing halfway through the 1995 Season, with a best finishing result of 4th at the ever-quick Canadian track Mosport.
In the 1996 season it was a full season entrant, competing at the world-famous Daytona 24hrs. 95-03 managed to come home in a solid 5th place at Daytona in 1996, as another MKIII crossed the line in first position. After completing the full IMSA championship in 1996, Chassis 95-03 changed team for the 1997 season.
The Target 24 team bought the car to run at the 1997 Daytona 24hrs. That an Italian team chose American machinery to take on the might of Ferrari was telling. Unfortunately, the car ran into engine problems during the race and was forced to retire. After this unfortunate retirement, the decision was made to switch engines. Up until this point the car has been running the Oldsmobile V8 engine. However, Target 24 felt they would be able to achieve more success if they switched to a Chevrolet engine. 1997 would be the final full season 95-03 spent racing in the United States, as it was then shipped overseas to conquer Europe in 1998.
95-03 would compete in the majority of the ISRS championship whilst also competing in the Vallelunga Gold Cup race. The car would go on to secure a podium at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit. After its podium, the car would then be rented out to the Conrero Team where it would have mixed results due to some reliability issues. Once the car was returned to one of its original teams, ‘Target 24’, it proved to be much more reliable in the outings that followed.
Riley & Scott MKIII’s are the perfect prototype to use in the LMP1a category in Endurance Legends series. The LMP1a category in ERL covers the era where the MKIII proved its dominance in America. You will be competing against some of the icons of motorsport such as the Ferrari 333sp, Lola B98/10, Panoz LMP1 and many more of equal calibre.
Even though 95-03 was the third ever MKIII chassis produced by Riley & Scott, it was active up until 2002, meaning that it competed throughout the MKIII’s entire motorsport tenure. Since its retirement from modern racing in 2002, 95-03 has been seen in Masters and Goodwood demonstrations as it was restored to its former glory by Simpson Motorsport. The engine has been rebuilt by Peter Knight and includes a completely rebuilt gearbox with a new crown wheel and pinon and a fuel tank that has 5 years of life left. 95-03 will need crack testing before it can be used competitively.