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Privilege Insurance BRDC British GT Championship

For 2000, SITD are building an all-new car to run in the newly-introduced GTO lightweight class, which features an engine capacity limit of 2 litres..

The GTO car will utilise the latest Darrian GTR chassis and incorporate all the latest aerodynamic and suspension modifications developed by Darrian Cars in conjunction with the Swansea Institute. The car also features the widened engine bay so that at some future date a Chevy V8 might be installed and the car upgraded to the GT class.

The team expect to contest a limited series of races in 2000, not joining the Privilege Insurance series until later in the season.

Channel 4's "GT on Four" provides excellent coverage of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship.

Safety Devices Tarmac Rally Championship

John Dalton's long promised car has at last been completed and Tim Duffee is extremely pleased with the results from early testing at Pembrey.


For 1999, the SITD team retained sponsorship from the WDA and entered just two rounds of the championship at Brands Hatch on 20th June and the British Grand Pix support round at Silverstone

Brands Hatch

After the trials and tribulations of the previous season, the car, in the hands of Matthew Manderson and Frank Bradly, ran faultlessly for the entire 50 minute race finishing sixth in class and eleventh overall.

Following a successful pre-race test session, the team had been disappointed when, for a variety of reasons, they failed to maintain the same level of performance during qualifying on the Saturday. However, at the start of the race, Matthew Manderson made an electric start gaining several places on the run up to Paddock Hill Bend. He remained in the car for the first 30 minutes, setting a personal fastest lap of 1minute 33 seconds, before handing over to Frank Bradley at the compulsory pit-stop. Frank then took the car to the flag, lapping within about a second of Matthew's times.

Matthew Manderson approaching Druids on 20th June (Photo: John Rawlins)

After the race, a delighted Tim Duffee explained that the car had only just made it on fuel and that its race performance had also been hampered by low turbo boost.


Armed with their Brands Hatch success the team were looking forward to the Silverstone race. Unfortunately their luck deserted them and after problems in qualifying with a faulty engine sensor, the failure of a small pin in the oil pump forced the car to retire from the race after only 3 laps.

1998 Privilege Insurance BRDC British GT Championship - Darrian moves to GT2

The SITD team spent the previous winter preparing for their move into GT2. The improvements gained towards the end of the '97 season stood the team in good stead for the year and during the winter break, modifications were made to the rear bodywork of the Darrian GT to improve cooling and downforce. Testing at MIRA showed a marked improvement in downforce with only a marginal increase in drag.

Pre-race testing of the new GT2 car at Pembrey and Swansea Airport also gave the team great incentive to try out the changes under race conditions.

Silverstone: 23rd August

Unfortunately the team's endeavours were thwarted at its first intended outing at Silverstone on Sunday 23rd August when the engine, which had been run for at least seven hours both in the car and on the dyno, threw a rod on the last lap of testing at Silverstone on the Friday leading into the race weekend.

SITD were looking forward to the race as, following practice, the car was placed 16th on the grid with 11th fastest time in the GT2 class. Much to their delight they had also proved quicker than Ken Thompson, who, for this race, had defected to the Venturi team, who were alongside them in the pit-lane.

Once again the team suffered bad luck: this time with only 15 minutes of the race run, the car was forced to pit with an engine bay fire, caused by the leakage of exhaust gases from a failed joint in the manifold system onto the surrounding bodywork. Fortunately, the damage sustained was not particularly serious but it meant that the team were forced to retire the car.

SITD Darrian GT2 at Silverstone

1997 BRDC Privilege Insurance British GT Championship -

The Darrian Challenge

As a result of rule changes for 1997, Darrians were no longer eligible for the GT3 class. The rules also meant that the cars would be uncompetitive in GT2, so the SITD team progressed to the GT1 class competing directly against the Lister Storm and McLarens etc..

The change to the rules unfortunately also hit a number of privateers who had hoped to be competitive in the GT3 class.

The SITD Darrian team car was displayed at the Autosport Show at the NEC, Birmingham in January in its new orange, white and green livery.

The Season's Results


The new Darrian GT1 contender finally made its debut at Oulton Park, following a superhuman effort by the team to ready the car, and on its first outing of the season finished 5th in class and 8th overall.

SILVERSTONE  (British Grand Prix support race)

Three Darrians competed at this round with the results as follows:

SITD Darrian (Thomson/Duerden) :5th GT1 - 11th overall.

Mackenzie V6 Darrian (Mackenzie/Maries) : 16th overall.

Darrian Cosworth (Manderson/James) :DNF (blown tyre)

The race was won by the Greasley Porsche after a high rate of attrition in the GT1 class, both the Lister Storm and the Harrier amongst others failing to make the finish.


The Darrian finished 10th overall and 6th in class. The race was won by Colin Blower's TVR Cerbera after it had burst into flames, causing the red flag to be brought out.


The race was won by John Greasley and John Morrison in their first outing in the recently purchased Porsche GT1. The Lister Storm, co-driven by owner Jake Ulrich and Tiff Needel, had led the race from the start, but unfortunately pulled to a halt at the bottom of Paddock Hill Bend in the latter stages of the race with a broken propshaft.

The SITD Darrian had a torrid time with turbo intercooler problems in practice, and was forced to retire after completing only a few laps of the race, as a result of a front suspension failure.


Prior to the Croft round, which had been rescheduled for 28th October, I spoke to Roger Dowden who told me that the team's electronics expert had remapped the engine, and that it had made a vast difference to its driveability.

Unfortunately the car finished unclassified, following a two lap delay during the driver changeover to top up the turbo intercooler.


The Darrian GT1 during the pits walkabout with Tim Duffee and

Roger Dowden (foreground) and Ken Thomson (in the background).

Before the start of the final round of the championship, the SITD team were quietly confident, having achieved a 1 min 25.4 secs lap in qualifying. Tim also told me that he believed that he had solved the intercooler over-heating problems by moving the air-cooled intercooler ahead of the water-cooled version.

Unfortunately though, as the cars came round on their warm-up lap, the Darrian peeled off into the pits with what Ken Thomson believed to be a gearbox problem. Nothing was found and the car started from the rear of the field from the pit lane. However the problem remained and Ken was forced to pit again at the end of the first lap. It turned out that a turbo hose had become loose and this was retightened. Unfortunately the real problem was a faulty clip and on the next lap out it failed again. Once the clip had been replaced several laps had been lost but the car performed excellently showing tremendous potential for next year.

With a fastest lap of 1min 27secs compared with a typical lap a 1min 28secs by the XJ220 of Tomas Erdos, it was between the 5th and 7th fastest car on the track although it still has to go a little further to match the typical 1min 21secs lap times of the winning Porsche GT1 of John Greasley and John Morrison.

The Darrian heading up the hill from Bridge

1996 BRDC Privilege Insurance British GT Championship - Darrian Takes the Title

In 1996 Swansea Institute Team Darrian (SITD) was formed to compete in the GT Racing arena and the following Press Release explains the teams aims:

SITD: Darrian en route au Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans

For the past  couple of years,  undergraduates in the Automotive Engineering Department of Swansea Institute have had the opportunity to work on the Darrian T90, raced by Senior lecturer Roger Dowden, in the WRDA Sports and Saloon Car Championship at Pembrey. This has provided them with invaluable practical experience, and of course, provides a great incentive for students to join the courses run at the institute. To coincide with the launch of a new degree in Automotive Engineering which will run alongside the existing BEng and HND courses, the decision was taken to expand the college racing activities by a move into GT racing, and SITD (Swansea Institute Team Darrian) was formed with the eventual aim of preparing a car to run at Le Mans. The carwhich is to take on this challenge is the T96, and it was originally intended to run this car in turbo-charged form in the BRDC GT Championship in the GT1 class. However a late change in the championship regulations introduced an additional GT3 class for which the existing T90s are now eligible. The team has therefore decided to run the 1995 Scottish GT and Sports Car Championship winning T90 of Ken Thompson (co-driven by Del Delaronde) and Swansea Institute's Roger Dowden car (co-driven by ANO)for the 1996 season. This will pit the Darrians against the likes of Marcos, Westfield SEI8 (co-driven by Tony Lanfranchi) and Lotus and will allow the team a season to gain experience of the intricacies of long distance GT racing and more time to develop and fine tune the T96, before moving up to the GT1 class next year. The team was launched at Silverstone last October, and both cars were on display at the Autosport Show in January at the NEC. The Scottish car will continue to run the Vauxhall 2.0 litre 16V engine, while Roger's car will run with a normally aspirated 2.4 litre Millington engine,and trade support has been received from Millington Engines, Ferodo, Pipercross, Goodridge, Dunlop, Champion, Samco Hoses, Selenia Oils and Pi Research amongst others.  

Tim Duffee explains: "The Darrian traces its roots back to the original Adrian Evans designed Davrian which emerged out of North Street, Clapham in the mid 1960s. Following much racing success in the 1970's, a move to Wales promoted the interest in rallying. Both Tarmac and forest cars were campaigned with championship success. Racing Davrian Mk8s were produced but no direct works involvement, which is something I believe is essential, was undertaken. Following the metamorphosis into Darrian, rallying became almost the sole form of motorsport involvement with direct works support for Geoff Kitney, Kevin Evans and John Dalton, who all gained Welsh Championship success followed by Motoring News Tarmac Titles in 1990 and 1993. Since the rally success in 1993, we have started to make a move back towards circuit racing events. This is due in part to the structure of international rallying which does not permit a small specialist manufacturer to progress to higher levels (a minimum production run of some 5,000 cars being required), but also to a desire to seek a new challenge.From 1993 we have seen customer cars competing in the Lynton Trailers Sports/Saloon series and the Scottish and Welsh Drivers' Championships. We have given some support, at a distance, to Edinburgh driver Roddie Paterson and encouraged by his success in Lynton Trailers events have developed the T90 to a surprising level of competitiveness for a converted tarmac rally car. Due to my belief that direct involvement in works cars is the only way to make progress, I have been continually frustrated at not being able to provide full hands-on support for an in-house team. Since 1990, through the induction of HND students for their work-experience sessions, we have formed a growing relationship with Swansea Institute. Senior Lecturer Roger Dowden has, I believe, spear-headed the motorsport involvement of the Automotive Engineering Department to the extent that a Darrian T90 was completed at the Institute, and has since been campaigned by Roger in the WRDA Championship. Believing that the full potential of this relationship between Swansea Institute and Darrian could carry us further up the motor racing ladder, I called upon the assistance of ex-Darrian customer Paul Adams to, promote the association, which I believe will lead us to success in GT Motor Racing.


The T96 is a further development of the Darrian concept - a functional, minimalist, mid-engined design honed with many seasons of wide ranging Motorsport success. Straightforward simplicity of design promotes cost effective maintenance and ease of set-up, resulting in reliability and performance at an affordable budget.

Outline Specification and Model Updates

The Kevlar/Carbon GRP monocoque chassis tub has been reworked to incorporate a new fully adjustable semi-trailing arm suspension system at the rear, while at the front, adjustable two piece struts and wide-based single wishbones are employed. Accurate steering is provided by a centre take-off rack and pinion. Wheelbase and front track have also been increased to handle higher power outputs and promote stability at speed. The interior dimensions of the car have received subtle alterations to ease entry and increase driver leg room while at the same time providing increased fuel tank capacity, if required. The front luggage compartment has been enlarged and an improved front impact chassis nose section has also been built into the overall chassis design.The outer bodywork is also undergoing modification to facilitate the increase in track and wheelbase dimensions with enlarged wheelarches to accomodate rims, larger than 15" as currently used on the T90. Further alterations to the air dam and upper bodywork sections to improve downforce are envisaged as are detail radiusing of the rear bodywork and roof section to improve air flow to the rear aerofoil. The brakng system will also be uprated considerably with the fitment of larger vented discs, facilitated by the use of 17" or 18" wheel options. Power is provided by a specially designed Millington Diamond 2.0 litre turbo-charged engine. The cylinder block and dry sump are cast in high-strength, heat-treated aluminium and form an integrated unit with lower main bearing halves and oil scavenge system formed in the sump. This results in an immensely rigid structure with a total weight of less than 24kgs when assembled. The crankcase can be operated at sub-atmospheric pressure, which contributes to a significant boost in efficiency and simplification of the breathing system. The engine is expected to produce in excess of 500bhp, and will drive through a stock Hewland in-line transaxle unit.

1996 BRDC Privilege Insurance British GT Championship - The Results

Ken Thompson won the championship overall but not without some drama along the way. Originally placed first, he was later displaced to 2nd overall after reinstatement of the Marcos in the results for the Snetterton round (see below).

Then after a counter-appeal, he and Darrian were re-instated as champions again, but the Marcos team lodged a further appeal........

KEN THOMSON and DARRIAN were finally confirmed as the BRDC Privilege Insurance GT Champions of 1996, following the re-instatement of all the cars disqualified at Snetterton for noise infringements.

Darrian results from the Privilege Insurance BRDC GT Championship rounds were as follows:

Round 1 (Silverstone)         3rd in GT3 class.

Round 2 (Donington Park)  DNF (alternator failure)

Round 3 (Brands Hatch)    The SITD GT3 Darrian of Ken Thomson (co-driven by Frank Bradley) came home 1st in class and 6th overall at the Brands Hatch round of the BRDC "Privilege Insurance" National GT Championship on Monday 27th May, heading all the GT2 cars and even a number of GT1 cars !

Round 4 (Donington Park) 1st in class.

Following this round Ken Thomson reached 3rd in overall drivers' championship

Round 5 (Thruxton)           1st and 2nd in class and 5th overall.

Ken Thomson is now joint-leader of the drivers championship with Ian Flux (Mclaren), and Darrian are leading the GT3 class and the overall championship.

Round 6 (Snetterton)         On the track the Darrian of Ken Thomson won the GT3 class and took the championship lead. However after the event, 7 of the 14 finishers were declared to  have failed the noise test, and amongst these cars both Darrians and the McLaren were excluded. The results are now the subject  of an appeal and if the cars are reinstated, the Darrian will lead the championship.  If the race is declared void the Darrian will remain joint championship leader and if the result stands, the Darrian will slip to third place.

Round 7 (Oulton Park)      The Darrian of Ken Thomson and Simon Duerden was 1st in GT3 class and 4th overall.

Round 8 (Silverstone)        Ken Thompson takes the Championship! The final round of the championship was contested on Sunday 13th October and a 1st in class and 4th overall, ahead of all the GT2 cars, means that, irrespective of the Snetterton result, Ken Thompson wins GT3 for Darrian and is overall winner of the championship.

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Silverstone: 5th October

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©John E.F.Rawlins (New Davrian Register) 2013