2002 – British GT Champion
The following year, 2002, proved to be a highlight for Thomas Erdos. Finally leaving behind the legacy of those years with the ageing Marcos, he and Graham Nash Motorsport stepped up several more gears with the arrival of the Saleen S7-R.
This stunning new racecar, developed by RML, injected new life into the six-year partnership between Erdos and the Mallory Park-based GNM outfit. Partnered by experienced Saleen racer Ian McKellar Jnr the duo wrapped up the British GT Championship with a round to spare, winning eight out of the championship’s twelve races and finishing second in all but one of the rest. During the season Thomas also set the greatest number of qualifying poles and fastest race laps to win the coveted British GT ‘Top Gun’ Trophy, awarded to the most successful individual driver. By doing so he also secured the overall Team Trophy for Graham Nash Motorsport – the first time GNM had won that title since running Erdos in the 1999 championship.
Although the statistics might suggest that the so-called ‘McErdos’ partnership had dominated the championship, it was not the straightforward romp it might appear. The British series operated a strict success ballast system, with 40 kilos added for every win, 30 kilos for second, and so on. Before long the squad’s continued success on track had earned Erdos and McKellar the maximum penalty applicable, with their Saleen often as much as 200 kilos heavier than their nearest rivals. Despite this they continued to win, sometimes thanks as much to the misfortunes of others as their own determination. Denied the outright pace they probably deserved, Graham Nash and his mechanics worked hard around the car’s handling, striving to counteract a top speed that was sometimes 10 kph or more down on the Lister Storm and TVR Speed 12. It is a credit to the team and the Saleen S7-R, not to mention the drivers themselves, that they were able to maintain their challenge and emerge victorious.
Winning this particular title was a long-overdue reward for Erdos. It was also an achievement recognised back in his homeland of Brazil, where top broadsheet O’Globo noted that Thomas was, at that time, the most successful Brazilian racing driver in international motorsport – and that list included some very famous names! Highlight of the year in many ways was the Silverstone victory that also gave Erdos and McKellar the coveted British Empire Trophy, one of the most prestigious awards in British motorsport.
Continued . . . .