Jaguar has begun work on turning its F-Type coupe into a racer.
According to a report in British racing publication Autosport, the British brand has started work on the F-Type to make it eligible for the GT4 racing series at the behest of a customer. While it is not expected to be a fully-fledged factory racing program, the deal is significant because it makes the F-Type the first GT sports car developed in-house by the leaping cat brand since its Le Mans winning D-Type of the 1950s.
This new project is believed to be funded by James Holder, the co-founder of clothing brand Superdry, who is an amateur racer in the GT4 category. The work on the car is being carried out by the Special Vehicle Operations units inside Jaguar.
SVO was responsible for producing the F-Type SVR and Project 7 (pictured below) special editions.
Jaguar returned to top-level motorsport in 2016 when it entered the all-electric Formula E championship. The company reportedly came very close to green lighting a GT3 version of the F-Type when the car was first launched but decided against joining its on-road rivals on the racetrack. But this new GT4 program does open the door for the brand to re-examine that decision and join the likes of the Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG GT and Aston Martin Vantage in the booming GT3 category.
Jaguar has reportedly hired the man responsible for penning the 1999 Le Mans winning BMW V12 LMR, Graham Humphrys, to design the F-Type GT4. He also previously worked on Bentley's entry into GT3 racing with the Continental GT.
More recently Humphrys worked at Aston Martin on the Valkyrie hypercar project.
Jaguar has refused to comment officially on the rumours.
The brand's last factory funded GT race car was based on the XKR and competed in the 2010 American Le Mans Series. But that car was built by American team RSR and not in-house by Jaguar.
Jaguar's heritage in sports car racing includes seven Le Mans wins. It dominated the race in the 1950s winning five times between 1951 and 1957 with the XK-120C, C-Type and D-Type.
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