Four MkIIICs were delivered to customers, with chassis 004 going to Floridian team owner Jim Matthews, a seasoned endurance racer and entrant. Riley was contracted to effectively run the Jim Matthews Racing 'works' MkIIIC in an ambitious programme which took in the three biggest races in endurance racing: the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, plus Petit Le Mans as a final race. Chassis 004 was effectively a works effort, with front-line professionals Guy Smith (Bentley Le Mans winner), Scott Sharp (IRL and ALMS Champion) Robby Gordon (IRL, Champ Car, NASCAR and off-road star) immediately signed up for Daytona, sharing with Matthews. The team fitted a thundering 6-litre Élan Motorsport Technologies Ford-derived V8, which was a very powerful and easily serviceable option.
For the Daytona 24hr, 004 qualified strongly in 4th place, and featured at the front throughout the race, looking like a strong contender for victory until a late-race issue lost them some time and they finished an impressive 2nd overall, behind the Doran Dallara-Judd.
For the Sebring 12hr a month later, Smith was retained with Belgian endurance veteran Marc Goosens joining the line-up with Matthews. The trio qualified in the top ten and again impressively finished 3rd overall, in front of factory entries from Audi, Cadillac and Panoz, proving the very strong pace and reliability of the MkIIIC package.
Le Mans was next and the team arrived with high hopes. Guy Smith had been called up for Bentley duties and so reigning Daytona 24hr winner, Didier Theys, was recruited to run alongside Matthews and Goosens. 004 however qualified a conservative 16th, certainly not reflecting the car’s proven potential. The Goodyear tyres that 004 was running was part of the problem - the factory cars on the Michelin and Dunlop rubber. The Michelin rubber was supposed to be supplied to Riley & Scott, but due to a limited calendar for the team, the deal fell through. It is understood that while testing on Michelin rubber the MkIIIC had lapped half a second faster than an Audi R8 on the same tyres. Sadly an engine failure at hour 13 ended the race for 004.
Since then 004 has been lovingly cared for and sparingly used in its 2002 Le Mans specifications.
A fantastic, competitive, and relatively economical car for Peter Auto's brilliant Endurance Racing Legends Series or Masters Endurance Legends.
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