Richard Lloyd is most recently remembered as the managerial mastermind behind the victory of Bentley at Le Mans in 2003. He returned to the highest levels of sports car racing in 2007 with runs of Zytek by his team, Arena International Motorsport, in both the European and American Le Mans Series.
However, Lloyd is probably best remembered for his seemingly quixotic but surprisingly successful attempt at constructing a unique version of the Porsche 956. Noted for its ground-hugging side skirts, the mid-1984 956GTI gave a different tilt towards the plethora of 956-83s being built by the factory for its customer teams in the World Sportscar Championship. Lloyd’s efforts presaged the carbon fiber chassis built by Thompson and others. Although fast and competitive from the start, it took two years for the fragile car to garner a victory, coming at Brands Hatch in 1986. The updated 962 version would enjoy one additional victory as well as four more podium spots. This kept Richard Lloyd Racing near the top of the team points tables at a time when the Porsches were increasingly being outclassed by the Jaguars and Sauber-Mercedes.
He stepped away from sports car racing with the demise of the Group C formula, only to return when once again this branch of the sport became ascendant. That came in 1999 when Audi entered the fray and Richard Lloyd managed the two-car Audi Sport UK entry of the Audi R8 coupes that year at Le Mans.
The career of Richard Lloyd as sports car team owner and manager actually began in 1981 with a Porsche 924. During 1982, Lloyd won the GTO class three times, co-driving on each instance. In 1983 he became one of the first privateers to field a 956, ending with one overall victory the following season before switching to the team’s own creation.
His career as a driver in world championship sports car racing began on a much more humble note. It came with an early DNF in a two-liter Chevron at the 1974 Austrian round. Later in the same season he ran strongly in two races with a DFV-powered March. Then as a team owner during the 1980s he drove in nearly every round where his cars were entered.
Scotland’s David Leslie was on the most active campaigners in the Group C2 class during the mid-1980s. Usually partnered by Mike Wilds and Ray Mallock, Leslie shared in 11 class podiums and 4 Group C2 wins between 1985 and 1987. They all came with the home-grown Ecosse cars. Between his commitments to Ecosse, he fit in three runs with friend Richard Cleare’s IMSA GTP class Kremer and March-Porsches.
Ecurie Ecosse pulled out of the Group C2 class in 1988 leaving Leslie with only a single run a Mazda at Le Mans, but that ending with a good finish. Ecurie Ecosse was a key player in the revival of Aston Martin in sports car racing and Leslie was called upon to drive the rather overweight AMR1 during 1989.
He was particularly fond of Le Mans and was a Jaguar driver on the works TWR squad for the 24 Hours in 1990 and 1991. Leslie was very much an endurance specialist, as shown by his drive in a Vauxhall at the 1993 Spa 24 Hours. He again returned to the Sarthe in 1995 with a distant-finishing Marcos. Although he turned to Touring Car racing for his bread-and-butter, David had confided to me that he soul was very much in sports car racing, a trait that often came out during his very astute commentating at the Sarthe in later years. Indeed, he enjoyed one more chance to indulge his passion with three runs in a Saleen during the 2004 season.