1996 – 1997: The Factory Races the Mk III

R&S began racing as a company in 1996. Before that, the company supported its customers in Trans-Am and World Sports Car, but did not race its own products.

That changed when GM tapped R&S to introduce its Aurora 4.0 L engine to World Sports Car competition. In 1995, the R&S MK III began a hugely successful run that continues today. The first customer was Dyson Racing, which used Ford power.

In February 1996, R&S and Doyle Racing debuted for GM at the "Rolex 24 at Daytona" in spectacular fashion. Drivers Wayne Taylor, Jim Pace and Scott Sharp brought home Mk III chassis no. 004 first in the closest race ever at Daytona. After 24 hours, Wayne brought the car home less than one minute in front of a Ferrari 333 SP driven by Max Papis.

At the 1996 Twelve Hours of Sebring a month later, the team steamrollered to its second straight endurance-classic win. Wayne Taylor, Jim Pace, and endurance maestro Eric van de Poele combined for the win. Competing against the Ferraris and a number of customer Mk IIIs, the factory effort won again at Texas World Speedway on May 5th. After a third-place at Watkins Glen, the team flew to France for the 24 hours of Lemans with high hopes. These were brought to earth by a gearbox failure in the 14th hour.

The team returned to the US and won again that year at Sears Point. Wayne Taylor finished 1996 as the IMSA World Champion sports car driver. Between the Dyson team and the factory effort, R&S Mk IIIs won 7 of the 10 races for the championship.

In 1997, the factory effort returned as a two-car team. Peruvian ace Eduardo Dibos had purchased chassis no. 006, and R&S ran that car and the Doyle Racing entry. The season was a disappointment however, as the Aurora motors that had been so reliable the year before suddenly began to experience mechanical failures. At Daytona, the defending champion had a three-lap lead at 3 a.m. when the motor self destructed (the Dibos car finished third in the race, which was won by Dyson Racing’s Mk III). In the eleven-round championship, the team’s best finish was a second at Pikes Peak International Raceway in September.