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In depth: Welsh racing team turns a corner

SVG Racing

Accelerate, shift up, brake hard while shift back down the gears, turn the corner and power out the exit like a bat out of hell. Whether one talks about rallying or track racing, that’s motorsport in a nutshell. Naturally there is a whole lot more to it than just moving as fast as possible.

Professional racing takes considerable management skills, a capable engineering department, and to fund the whole thing, a large wad of cash, that sometimes comes in the form of sponsors. Not to say that driving skill isn’t paramount but a combination of the above skills are what makes or breaks a team.

SVG Racing

SVG Racing, in addition to being a motorsport team, also provides track day experiences and training. Images credit SVG Racing

It takes a certain amount skill, tenacity and brass bells to drive at the limit, all the time, every time. Add to that the fact that it takes quite a bit more to be the underdog at any event and you have a group of people that are as fast as they are knowledgeable.

Enter SVG Racing, a Swansea based motorsport team that has enjoyed a superb 2015 season and attracted the attention of several of the fastest drivers in the UK. Lead by the mild-mannered yet confident Tim Matthews (ex-co-host of the So you want to be an F1 Driver TV series along with Jenson Button and Tiff Needell), Team SVG Racing is looking to expand its line-up for the 2016 season.

Team speak

Since winning another National Championship in 2015, Matthews is wants to take more of a back-seat role as senior instructor and guest driver for the young team of competitors.

The new team for the year hasn’t been fully confirmed as yet, but we do know that Llandovery ace Cameron Davies, winner of the Sports 2000 Pinto Championship Michael Gibbins, and Irishman Mark Johnston (winner of the So you want to be an F1 Driver TV series and ex-Swansea University student) are going to participate in the Sports 2000 Championship and the GT Cup Championship during 2016.

Team wins Sport 2000 Championship

The team after winning the Sports 2000 Championship in 2015

Concerning his team, Mathews was quite proud to say, “We have fielded very experienced drivers and hope to see repeat performances of last year’s season.”

The team is also currently looking for additional drivers since novice racing driver Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani left the team in August this year.

Dark horse

The confidence comes across in Mathews’ voice as he doesn’t consider himself an underdog in either of the championships, even with competitors like Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, BMW, Aston Martin and Jaguar.

“There’s still a little bit of work to be done modding the engine on our cars. It makes about 260 horsepower and we have to bring that up to 420bhp (from a two-litre engine).” For cars that usually weigh less than 500kg including the driver, that makes for incredible speeds.

SVG Racing

Team principal, Tim Mathews hopes to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by 2017

To put it in perspective, a bog standard Vauxhaul Corsa sold in the UK makes 69bhp from a 1.2-litre engine and weighs in at about 1,200kg.

Track days

The seasons for both the Sports 2000 and GT Cup championships will begin in April 2016 and the team will have to put in a lot of man-hours testing the single-seater open-top cars and perfecting them before it begins, and that’s besides making the engine cough up nearly 200bhp more than it does now.

The Sports 2000 will begin at the iconic Silverstone track on April 23 and head to Oulton Park in May, culminating at Brands Hatch in October 2016. There will be a race every month at tracks around the UK.

SVG Racing

Team SVG Racing building their lead at Oulton Park during the 2015 Sports 2000 Championship season

The calendar for the GT Cup Championship is provisional but is meant to start on the same day, but at Donnington Park and end at Snetterton in October.

Local hero

In a bid to promote motorsports in Wales, he has been running SVG as a company that offers corporate entertainment, hospitality, marketing and branding using the exciting and dynamic world of motorsport.

With experience days (track days with tutorials from simpler one day experience days to an F1 Grand Prix experience) and a full-blown academy at the Centre of Excellence at Swansea Enterprise Park meant to teach, Mathews hopes to bring greater awareness to motorsport in Wales.

He has also planned an experience day in Wales at the Pembrey circuit, famed for testing cars due to its fast sweeping corners and tight hairpins. The British Drift Championship and the British Rallycross Championship also take place there.

SVG Racing

The Centre for Excellence run by SVG has training programs that could lead to a place in their team

Reach for the stars

When asked about his future plans, Mathews said, “I hope to be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by 2017. The greatest difficulty in getting there is finding finance for it.” The prestigious racing championship is also a gruelling endurance test that has cars and drivers going round a track for, as the name implies, 24 hours.

He does have a team in place to bring in some much-needed sponsorship funds but there is still some way to go in that regard he admits.

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