Designed as a replacement for the disappointing 2KQ chassis, the Reynard 02S was much more a revolution than an evolution. Unfortunately the 02S proved to be too late to save the British manufacturer from its February 2002 bankruptcy. Some of the assets, including the designs and rights of the 02S were acquired by a company called International Racing Management (IRM). They completed the first chassis and badged it YGK, after the Japanese group they were commissioned by to do so. YGK pulled out and the single chassis was sold to Danish driver John Nielsen's RN Motorsport team.
Before continuing the competition history of the last Reynard, let's first take a look at some of the technical aspects. Reynard focused on designing a car that would theoretically both suit the LMP 900 (900 kg minimum, wide tires and large engine) and LMP 675 (675 kg minimum, slimmer tires, smaller engine) classes. The most striking exterior feature was the very low waistline between the front and rear wheel-arches. Under the lightweight body a traditional carbon fibre monocoque chassis is found, suspended by double wishbones all around.
The John Nielsen ex-YGK Reynard was now known as the DBA, named after his sponsor, Den Bla Avis, and made its debut at the end of the 2003 season. Running under the LMP 675 class regulations, the DBA was powered by a Zytek 3.4 litre V8 and weighed in at just over 760 kg. Its debut lasted 133 laps, when a mechanical failure put the new car out of the race. The DBA's performance was satisfying and convinced Nielsen to enter it for the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Some modifications were carried through and the car was renamed once again and entered as the DBA4 03S.
In addition to the Le Mans race, RN Motorsport entered their DBA4 03S in a number of the FIA Sports Car Championship races. In the opening round at Estoril, John Nielsen and his team-mate Hayanari Shimoda finished second behind the winning Courage C60. Success came in the fourth round at Oschersleben in which Shimoda and his new team-mate Andy Wallace beat the championship winning Dome S101. At Le Mans in 2003, the RN Motorsport DBA4 03S achieved second in class but was also a lowly 23rd overall.
New life was pumped into the Reynard design once more when engineering company and engine supplier Zytek picked up the manufacturing rights of the car. In the winter of 2003/2004, Zytek went about building two brand new chassis, which were homologated as the Zytek 04S. They were identical to the DBA4 03S, which had been sold by John Nielsen to Creation Autosportif. The first new Zytek (chassis 04S/02) was sold to Sam Hignett's Team Jota and the other (04S/03) was retained by the factory and used as a Works car.
As of 2004, both the LMP675 and LMP900 cars were grouped in one class, which meant the Zytek 04S would face very strong competition including the very dominant Audis. This season also saw the introduction of a new racing series based around the classic 1000 km races in Europe and held under the banner of the ACO; the 24 Hours of Le Mans organizers. The world was first confronted with the Zytek at the Le Mans test day in April were it wowed everybody by recording the fifth fastest time, making it the best non-Audi.
Piloted by experience drivers Andy Wallace, David Brabham and Stefan Johansson, the Works Zytek continued to impress at the season opening Monza 1000 km race. With a second place in qualifying it was debut in style. Sadly some teething problems threw it down the grid to sixth in the race. The Team Jota car did not make it to the finish. It would be the story of the season for the two Zyteks; lightning quick, but fragile. At Silverstone the Works Zytek grabbed the pole and finished fourth, which was the best result of the season for the 04S.
Encouraged by the good performance during the car's debut season, the Works team and Team Jota returned for another stab at the season's major endurance races. It did not seem like the best of starts for the Works car as it was badly damaged in the practice session at the Spa season opener. Fortunately the car was repaired in time for qualifying. Starting from third on the grid in dreadful conditions, the car was carefully piloted to its maiden victory. One of the drivers was former DBA4 owner John Nielsen.
For Le Mans only Team Jota was invited and they struggled again with the poor reliability that had become the trademark of all cars built to the LMP675 regulations. The LMES 1000 km races seemed more suited to the very elegant machine as the Works team also took victory at the Nürburgring and driver Hayanari Shimoda missed the championship by just one point. At the end of the season, the Works car was flown to the United States to race in the final two rounds of the ALMS. The team returned to Europe with two pole positions and one victory in the bag.
At the end of that very successful, the Zytek 04S was rendered virtually obsolete as rule changes prevented it to race at Le Mans or in the Le Mans Series. The 04S/03 Works car was refurbished and sold to Japan as a Zytek 05S to race in the Japanese Le Mans Series. Against little competition, the successful racer continued to claim poles and score victories. The 04S/02 Jota car was sold to Creation and served as the basis for the second of their two CA06 hybrid racers.
Although active in the automotive industry and motorsport, Zytek Engineering was little heard off before the 04S hit the tracks. In its brief career the 04S achieved what many other of its seasoned competitors can only dream of. The two cars are pictured above at a variety of tracks during the 2004 and 2005 season. At the bottom of each shot there is a short summary of the performance of the chassis at that particular race.
with its black livery, without any doubt, its by far the most beautifull LMP ever, at Le Mans it was very quick, but fragile againt the 3 factory supported Audi teams (Veloqx, Goh and Champion Racing)
Mark G 01-10-2005
Saw this car absolutely blowing the doors off the Team Veloqx Audi R8's at the Silverstone LMES race. Robbie Kerr was an absolute star during the first stint. Unfortunately, it had a coming together with another car which dropped it down the order, otherwise it was definitely on for a podium finish. All this little team needs is a bit of financial backing to make the car a bit more reliable for Le Mans, and the Zytek would be capable of seriously embarrassing the bigger works teams at La Sarthe in June.