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Jaguar and Invictus Games are going racing in the British GT4

Wounded, injured and sick veterans will campaign this supercharged V8 F-type

If you’ve not heard of the Invictus Games, you’re missing out on a truly inspiring sporting event: an international spectacle reserved for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military veterans. Later this year, the main event will kick off in Sydney, Australia, but in the meantime, Invictus has a motorsport offshoot. And at the heart of it is this rather tremendous-looking Jaguar F-Type SVR GT4. It’s one of two specially-prepped racecars created by Jaguar Special Operations, and will be raced by injured servicemen and women from the British Armed forces.

Invictus Games Racing has been set-up by the co-founder of the Superdry apparel brand James Holder, who competed in the 2016 British GT championship. After convincing Jaguar to build its first true GT racing car since 2007, SVO converted two F-Type SVRs from AWD to rear-wheel drive to comply with regulations, fitted race tyres, brakes, suspension and aerodynamics, plus the required safety equipment. The controls are modified to account for the drivers’ injuries.

Holder said: “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.”

And compete they will. For the next three years at least, the veterans will get stuck in alongside the pros at the best racetracks in the UK, from Silverstone and Oulton Park to Brands Hatch and, um, Spa-Francorchamps. The Belgian jaunt happens in late July. Mark your diaries…

Usually we’d fawn over this punchy-looking racecar and that would be that. But with Invictus, it’s worth taking a moment to tell you a little about the team personnel.

Four drivers from the various armed forces will be joined by two professional drivers to comply with the British GT rules. Professional driver Jason Wolfe will mentor Ben Norfolk and Basil Rawlinson in the number 22.

Basil Rawlinson joined the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment in 2009, before serving in Afghanistan between 2010-2011. A Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and injured back lead to him being discharged in 2014, and he’s now on the engineering team at Jaguar Land Rover.

His teammate is Ben Norfolk, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Royal Airforce Sergeant. In 2008, he assisted with a multiple casualty recovery at Camp Bastion. The events culminated in complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), anxiety and depression. He was medically discharged from the RAF in November 2017.

Meanwhile, pro-driver Matthew George will be coaching and sharing with Steve McCulley and Paul Vice in Jaguar number 44.

Royal Marines Commando Paul Vice MC was on his fourth tour of Afghanistan. On foot patrol in Helmand Province, he stepped on a command wire Improvised Explosive Device. The detonation caused a traumatic brain injury, which paralysed his right arm. Surgeons removed more than 400 pieces of shrapnel from his body, and he underwent a below-knee amputation. Paul went on to become the most successful male athlete at the 2016 Invictus Games winning seven medals, including two golds.

In 2011, 14 years after first joining the Royal Marines, Major Steve McCulley, a lifelong motorsport fan, was nearly killed by an Improvised Explosive Device while leading 175 Royal Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. His injuries were so severe he lay in a coma for three weeks. Two years of grueling physio were to follow.

Quite a team, you’ll agree. The very best of luck to all involved from everyone at TopGear.com.

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