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Riley & Scott MKIII


Competed in both Daytona 24 hours and Sebring 12 Hours 
One of the first MKIII's produced 
Extensively raced in the IMSA championship during the 1990's
Ideal car to win the LMP1A category in Endurance Racing Legends 

When thinking about some of the most dominant endurance racing sportscars of all time, your mind would automatically be drawn to names such as Audi, Ferrari, Porsche and Toyota. This is rightly to be expected, 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 during 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 manufacturer from America called ‘Riley & Scott’. The new IMSA class called WSC was aimed at open sports prototypes and it saw the might of Ferrari spring an attempt to regain control at the top of the motorsport mountain. However, what Ferrari did not account for was their biggest rival being a company they most likely knew little about. Riley & Scott debuted their initial design, called the MkIII, during the 1993 IMSA season. Rob Dyson would be the first of many other team bosses to take a gamble on the underdog. Impressed from the outset, 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 into the campaign, 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, it also scooped the fastest lap, leaving the Ferrari 333 SPs to fight for second and third. The stage had been set for a titanic multi-season battle between the might of Ferrari and the plucky upstart.

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Now a claim to being one of the most dominant cars of an era cannot be made without evidence to back it up, but 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 brought 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, somewhat 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 the most famous endurance race of them all, 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 MKIIIs could be seen tearing around the Circuit De La Sarthe. The difference in 1999 compared to previous years was 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, many with brand new designs. The majority of these brands had substantially more experience around Le Mans and came prepared which much newer machinery, and of course 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.

Whilst Le Mans success ultimately eluded it, 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, and that a giant manufacturer budget is not all it takes to to dominate over and over. The MKIII had a staggering eight-year racing career which outlasted every other car it came up against throughout its racing life. Not only did the MKIII outlast these cars, but it also achieved a superior career record taking a total of over 30 wins in its career around the world. This tally of course included multiple overall Daytona 24hr and Sebring 12hr wins.

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This chassis, 95-003, 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 high speed Canadian track Mosport. 95-003 was a full season entrant of the IMSA WSC championship for 1996, kicking off at the world-famous Daytona 24 hours. It managed to come home in a solid 5th overall at Daytona in 1996, and 2nd MkIII with the Doyle Racing car taking overall victory. 


The Italian Target 24 team acquired the car to run at the 1997 Daytona 24hrs. The fact than an Italian had opted to use American machinery to take on the might of Ferrari was indeed fascinating. 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 V8, with the swap taking place before its next race at Laguna Seca. 1997 would be the final time 95-003 was seen racing in the US, as the team took it to Europe to compete in the International Sports Racing Series.


95-003 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 for the 1999 Sports Racing World Cup, where it would have mixed results due to some reliability issues. Once the car was returned to the hands of Target 24, it proved to be much more reliable in the outings that followed. After then competing with Simpson Motorsport in the 2002 FIA Sportscar Championship, 95-003 was finally retired.


Even though 95-003 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, 95-003 has been seen in Masters Endurance Legends races, at Goodwood in a demonstration and of course in ERL. Painstakingly restored to its exact 1997/8 Target 24 specification by Simpson Motorsport, 95-003 is now ready to thunder around the track with its next custodian. During the restoration, the engine was rebuilt by Peter Knight, whilst the gearbox was fully rebuilt plus a new crown wheel and pinion fitted. In addition the fuel cell is fresh. The only task needing attention is crack testing of the necessary components, which was not done yet in order to ensure a full two year validity for the next owner.


Riley & Scott MKIIIs are the perfect prototype to use in the LMP1A category of Peter Auto's incredibly Endurance Legends (ERL)  series. The LMP1A category in ERL covers the era where the MKIII proved its dominance in America, so its next custodian would be competing against some of the icons of motorsport such as the Ferrari 333SP, Lola B98/10, Panoz LMP-1 and many more of equal calibre.



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