Group C/GTP Racing
In 30 years of racing, David Mercer has never had a season like 2005. During an epic Group C/GTP campaign in his Spice SE90C, he finished every one of the 12 races on the podium and won five times.
With his Weylock Racing Spice working perfectly, Mercer was always a contender and topped his year with double wins at Brands Hatch and Donington Park. Even a raging temperature — for the driver — at Donington didn’t harm his progress, and after a trip home to Kent overnight to recuperate he was back on Sunday to win again.
As chairman of the Group C/GTP Racing Club, the veteran was a leading light in the continuing strength of racing for these evocative sports-prototypes of the 1980s and early ’90s. Series organisers Jim and Penny Graham worked tirelessly to promote the category and engender a fine atmosphere among the racers. Their efforts were rewarded with 40 cars on the books. A 26-car field for the Silverstone GP circuit races was a highlight of a season comprising six double-header meetings.
In the searing heat of Monza in late May, Nigel James (Porsche 962) claimed the opening race after Charlie Agg’s monstrous Nissan R90CK succumbed to transmission dramas. But the Nissan was made for high-speed circuits like Monza and Agg unleashed the beast the following day to score what would prove to be his one and only victory of the season.
James added his second win at the Nürburgring a month later as rain hit the weekend. Having nursed a down-on-power engine home to second place, Mercer turned the tables on James in the second race to take his first win of the season. A star drive for third came from Jenna Brorsson (Porsche 962), but her season was later cut short when a major engine failure led to a substantial fire at Brands in late July. Mercer was unstoppable at Brands, but Gary Pearson returned after back surgery to offer a big challenge in his Jaguar XJR-11. A week later Pearson was mighty on home turf at Silverstone, winning twice. In the opener he had a great battle with Agg’s Nissan which was only resolved by late-race traffic. “He takes about 50 yards out of me on Hangar Straight,” said Pearson of the prodigious straight-line pace of the Nissan. On Sunday the Nissan consumed its transmission in the first quarter-mile, so Pearson romped home with Mercer and Simon Pullan (Porsche 962) next up.
Mercer also claimed a double at Donington, though his weekend’s workload was eased when Agg uncharacteristically planted the Nissan in the pit wall during qualifying and Pearson was sidelined by oil woes. Finally, Richard Eyre claimed his first Group C/GTP victories with a fine double at Estoril in his Jaguar XJR-16, stealing the second win from Mercer when the Spice was delayed by last-lap traffic.
Others to feature at the sharp end of the racing included Eyre’s partner Janine Payne (Porsche 962), Justin Law (jaguar XJR-12) and Jim Mullen (Spice GTP), while young Pullan claimed four podiums in the course of the last five races.