As 2002 starts there are two major pieces of Marcos racing news.
First up is the news that NCK have sold their two cars to a new team.Caterham runner, Gerry Taylor has set up Team Foundry Motor Sport (TFM-GT) to run the two Marcoses run by NCK for a number of years (As I recall, the less developed car is the 71 car that ran in Computacenter colours at Le Mans in 1995!). Paul Stephens (who shared one of the cars at Brands in 2001) will share the sequential gearboxed car (with a stiffer chassis), whilst swift Mantis driver, Charlie Butler-Henderson (he of the famous sister - Sorry, Charlie!) will share the second car with Bob Cudmore.
“We’re going to enter the full British GT season,” explained Bob Cudmore, “plus a couple of FIA GT rounds if we can fit them in.” They’ve already looked at 2003 too – “we’re thinking about a couple of ALMS rounds.”
The team are likely to be testing in Spain in early March, well in advance of the first race.
Gerry Taylor reports that the team intend to continue to develop the cars. Clearly they were swift in NCK ownership, but there may be more to come, as Euser's developments have shown. Watch their progress...
The second piece of early season news is the mysterious Daytona test. On the official sheet a Marcos Mantara (read LM600 evo), driven by Cor Euser and Calum Lockie is credited with a lowly 2:00 fastest lap. This is way down on the fastest race lap in 2001 (when, you may recall, the cars challenged eventual overall winners, the Works Corvettes for a good half of the race).
More mysterious still, is the fact that the car was listed as a GT entry (not GTS where the car ran last year) and the fact that a photo from Daytona shows a sky blue Mantis GTO! More information, as and when it comes to light...
The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona brought mixed fortunes for the Marcos entries.
Practice saw the car struggling on Dunlops (Daytona was the first time the car used them), but still resulted in a promising 22nd on the grid (and 4th in the GTS class) for the Mantara LM600 Evo of regular pairing Cor Euser and Calum Lockie, joined for this race by Dutchman Duncan Huisman.
The car rose as high as 9th, at the 10 hour mark and was still in a strong position for a GTS podium placing at the 12 hour mark, when the car was wheeled behind the wall, never to return. The reason was an increasingly lean mixture which threatened to blow the expensive Chevrolet engine up. At the time the car was a strong 3rd in class, behind the Trans Am Jaguar which finally won and a GT1 Porsche 911, which also retired.
You can read Calum's views on this years race here.
On a more positive note, one of the Mantis (both started), in the hands of Peter Van Der Kolk, Cougar Jacobsen (cool name! Only in America, the other drivers were all Dutch), Stephan De Groot and Pim Van Riet, finished the race in a noteworthy 20th overall. The American crewed car of Martin Shuster, Toto Lassally and Larry Baisden, Tampa, Fla. retired on lap 219.
Following Daytona, the bulk of the MRI team stayed in the US to campaign the two Mantis. First up was the Miami race. In this event Cougar Jacobsen and Paco Orti started 17th and Cor Euser and Dino Steiner started 19th. Neither car finished, however, being classified 23rd and 24th (respectively) on 65 and 62 laps of the 104 of the full race distance. The Jacobsen car retired in the last hour with transmission failure, whilst the Euser car spent some time in the early part of the race having transmission repairs.
The next race was at the California Speedway. Euser/Steiner qualified 14th with Jacobsen/Orti in 16th. The latter car finished 14th (on 109 of the leaders 142 laps) with Euser placed 18th with just 44 laps recorded. Euser made an early tyre stop in the first hour and then returned to the pits in the second whilst the pace car was out. During the second hour the other car was in with suspension damage which delayed it somewhat.
The two cars are expected to be present in all the Grand Am events.
Over the Easter weekend, the Privilege GT series got off to a start at Brands Hatch. The Marcos contingent was pretty well represented with the two TFM LM600s (last year's NCK cars) in the hands of Ian Mitchell/Robin Webster and Paul Stephens/Gerry Taylor and Mantis entries in the GTO class, albeit fewer than in recent years.
The cars qualified behind the fastest GT runners, but Stephens/Taylor were unfortunate to lose out on a podium after the bonnet (basically the whole front half of the car!) came adrift and led to a spin into the gravel and Mitchell/Webster took a, somewhat fortuitous, but welcome, 2nd in GT as the Lister and other swifter, but more fragile cars fell by the wayside. This marked Robin Webster's first podium since starting racing in 1977!
In GTO, Ashley Ward/Rob Croydon were best Mantis, in 8th overall (6th in class).
Meanwhile former Marcos peddlers Calum Lockie (in a works Ferrari 360 GTO entry) and Thomas Erdos (in a GT class Saleen S7) got their season off to a great start with Thomas taking overall victory in the race, with co-driver Ian McKellar and Calum taking a third in GTO (fourth overall) with former F3000 man Jamie Davies.
On April 20th, MarcosRacingUSA were in Arizona for the Phoenix United Auto 200 mile race. In practice, the cars finished 21st and 22nd overall (7th and 8th in the GT class in which they run).
Come the race, the Jacobsen/Orti car suffered an early driveshaft breakage, which dropped it down the field. It rejoined and finished 22nd (and 8th in class). Cor Euser and Larry Baidsan had a relatively trouble free run and finished 18th overall, 6th in GT. Next race is not until June 23rd, at Watkins Glen.
Back in the UK, the Marcos teams were in action at Donnington for round 2 of the BRDC GT series. Things, however, did not go well for the Mantis or LM600 entrants.
The TFM LM600s of Taylor/Stephens and Clark/Newman both retired (at 13 and 22 laps, to the winner's 51), although their best lap times were competitive (running in the 1m 11.3s range).
The only Marcos finisher was the GTO class Mantis of Pilgrim/Neate, which was classified as the 14th and last finisher.
The next round is this weekend (5th May) at Silverstone - If you arrive in a Marcos you can get infield parking by telling the main gate you are with Club Marcos International, I'm told - Don't come crying to me, if my infomation is wrong!
Things have been very quiet on the Marcos racing front since the May report. The TFM LM600s have both missed all the recent races (3 rounds now) of the BRDC GT series with a mysterious 'engine problem'.
However, one of the cars now appears to have been sold to Brian Colwell’s Kitchen Elegance Racing. The car is entered on the BRDC GT list, but hasn't yet apppeared. No firm news, either, of when TFM's remaining car will reappear. Hopefully both will be out at Castle Combe, on June 23rd, where the CMI are holding their annual rally again.
Former Marcos aces, Tommy Erdos and Calum Lockie, however continue to make a great impression in their GT Saleen S7 and GTO Ferrari 360 (respecitively) Tommy now leads the GT championship, with wins at Silverstone (in May and June), Knockhill and Croft and Calum is chasing hard for the GTO title, with podium places at every round so far.
Calum was also kept busy recently, sharing a BMW with Cor Euser in the Nurburgring 24 hours. The team set class pole and were up to 10 seconds a lap faster during the race, but engine mount problems restricted them to 3rd in class, with fastest lap.
In the US, there have been no further races since the last report. The next race is on 23rd June at Watkins Glen.
It's now August, and there's been some racing news to report. In the UK, one of the TFM LM600s was out at Castle Combe for the CMI members to cheer on, whilst they attended their annual rally. The car was taken out in a first lap incident, but rejoined and stormed through the GTOs in impressive form, with Gerry Taylor at the wheel. However, normal co-driver, Paul Stephens was not sharing the car on this occasion and it dropped back through the field in the hands of Brian Colwell . He suffered a couple of spins and spent some laps in the pits with a suspected water leak. Several, less generous souls, pointed out he'd also been very slow in the warm up...
There was also a Mantis out in the race, in the hands of John Griffiths and Chris Ryan, which ran at a competitive Mantis pace and even had the pleasure of passing the slow lapping LM600 on more than one occasion. The LM600 was finally placed 11th, 5 laps down, but still 3rd in GT, whilst the Mantis was 9th overall, but 5th in, the much more competitive, GTO.
Over in the US, the Marcos Racing USA team had their Mantises out at Watkins Glen, NY. They qualified 11th and 14th in the GT class (29th and 36th overall). Both car only completed a limited number of laps, with the Euser/Jacobsen/Orti being classified 12th in class with 58 laps and the other car (driven by Ian James and Toto Lasally) being classified down in 13th in class with just 24 laps completed. It's hard to get info on the races from the UK, but the Grand Am race notes point out that 04 went behind the wall with it being recorded as joining the race some 2 hours after the start.
Neither car recorded a time in practice for the Paul Revere 250 night race at Daytona International Speedway on 5th July. However, they both appeared in the race, being classified 22nd and 23rd (5th and 6th in GT) on 42 laps (versus the class winner's 66). Cor didn't race at Daytona.
Next race up was the Bully Hills Vineyard 250, back at Watkins Glen. Cor Euser set an impressive third in GT (around 2 seconds off the class pole) and the second car qualified 6th in GT, 6 seconds down on Cor's time. In the race, Cor's car ran well, but was narrowly pipped to a class podium by a BMW M3, which finished on the same number of laps (88 to the GT winner's 90). The second car was 3 laps further back.
In Europe, meanwhile Cor Euser and Herman Buurman have been running LM600s in the Euro GT series (formerly the Ferrari-Porsche Challenge). Full details can be found on the website - http://www.fpcompetition.com/, but so far rounds have been held at Barcelona, Nurburgring (where the races were abandoned due to bad weather), Donington, the A1 Ring (Austria) and Zolder.
Cor Euser's familiar rainbow LM600 evo took a second place in the second race at Barcelona, following up Rob Knook's 4th place in the first. At Donington, Cor Euser/Rob Knook combined to take a win in the second race and at the A1 ring Euser/Knook's second in the second race followed a second for Euser and third for Buurman in the first.
The latest round, at Zolder, saw Euser/Knook finish third in both races, with Buurman fourth in each. Down in Class B, the Mantis is able to battle effectively with the Porsches.
At this stage, Euser/Knook are second in the championship, with 123 points (16 behinds the van der Zwaan brothers' Dodge Viper), whilst Herman Buurman (who did some races in a Viper) is 4th on 103 points. In class B, Peter van der Kolk is the best placed Mantis driver in 3rd place on 94 points (the Porsche driving leader has 150).
The Spa 24 Hours, although a round of the FIA GT series (for which the LM600 is not eligible), featured a class for 'other' cars. In this class, as well as a couple of BMW Z3M coupes and a pair of Vertigo Streifs, there was an LM600, driven by Max Weisenburger (BEL), Bernard de Dryver (BEL) and Risto Virtanen (FIN). At the 2 hour point it was running in 14 place, but retired in the early evening on Saturday with a broken engine.
Check out Paul Huberty's shot of the LM600 on Car of the Month.
In the rounds of the British GT series following Castle Combe, a single TFM LM600 made little impression (in the hands of Gerry Taylor and Brian Cowell). At Rockingham, in July, the car qualifed a lowly 14th and was classified 13th, 3 laps down.
August saw races at Oulton Park (where the race was punctuated by an accident resulting in £1m worth of damage!) and Snetterton. At Oulton the singleton LM600 was 14th in qualifying and was classified 11th, 1 lap down. The Snetterton event saw a 12th in qualifying, but the car failed to finish. Worse was to follow at Thruxton in September, where the withdrawl of Brian Cowell and his sponsors meant the car was unable to race.
In the US, two more races took place. A single Mantis was entered in both races. At the first, in Virginia, the car (raced by Euser, Jacobsen and Dutchman, Peter Van Der Kolk) qualified 14th (5th in class) and, after a first lap stop to fit the correctly marked tyres and losing a wheel late in the race, was placed 12th overall (good for 5th in class).
The second race, at Mont Tremblant, in Canada, saw the car (this time driven by all American crew Cougar Jacobsen, Michael Stephens, and Craig Conway.) qualify 15th (7th in class). Finished 12th overall again and 5th in class. The final round is at Daytona, in November.
There's also been an LM600 in action in the Spanish GT series again. 2000 champions Marcos are represented by the Meycom Sport team's LM600. Driven by Tomas SALDAÑA (joined by Angel BURGUEÑO) the car took 3rd place in the first race, at Albacete, on 7th April. However, the car retired after 10 laps, in the second race of the double header event). Portugese driver, Ni Amorin, replaced Burgueno at Jarama (on 19th May) where the car took a promising 2nd in the first race, but retired (after 7 laps) in the second. The 3rd event, at Estoril, was a single race, where the car (with Saldana/Amorin driving) retired after 37 laps.
There are still 3 rounds to come in the Spanish series.
In the Euro GT series, the Spa event proved a great success for the Marcos team. The Viper of Rob and Arjan Van Der Zwaan was expected to be favourite and led both races. However, in race one, Rob Knook's early mistake (sliding wide on oil) was repeated by the Viper crew and Cor Euser snatched the lead back. Gearbox problems prevented the Viper fighting back and Cor led until the chequered flag. In race two, the Viper's early lead was snatched away by Cor Euser on lap 1 and he led the remaining 15 laps to make it a convincing double win. This great result put the team just 12 points behind the Van Der Zwaan Viper with just the Zandvoort round on 28/29 September remaining.
The final round of the BRDC GT series, at Donnington, saw more disappointment for the TFM GT team, as they blew an engine in practice and failed to start the race.
Over in the Euro GT series, however, Cor Euser and Rob Knook pulled off a major coup by defeating favourites and long time championship leaders , the De Zwaan brothers (Driving a Viper). There was a degree of good luck for the Marcos crew, in that the Viper hit trouble for both races at Zandvoort (spinning in the first and having to start from the back of the grid in the second), but they won both races convincingly to be crowned Euro GT champions 2002. Full details can be found here.
At the Valencia round of the Spanish GT championship, the LM600 of Tomas Saldana and Ni Amorin lined up on the grid behind the Chaves/Ramos Saleen S7 for both races. However, the Marcos crew got the upper hand in both races, taking a full 60 points away from the meeting. The championship, however, is still led by the Saleen which is run by Graham Nash, for whom former Marcos driver, Thomas Erdos, has just won the British GT series...
The next notable Marcos racing event was the Jerez round of the Spanish GT series on 13th October. Once again, it was the Marcos LM600 crew of Ni Amorin and Tomas Saldana who took the fight to the championship leading Saleen S7 crew of Chaves and Ramos.
A Viper kept the LM600 off of the front row, but a good start saw the Marcos battling for the lead with the Saleen into turn 1. However, the Saleen team were able to open up a lead over the Marcos, which gradually fell back into the grasp of the Viper (driven by Pedro Couciero Miguel Pais Do Amaral). At the end of the race, the Saleen was 30 seconds ahead of the LM600, which held off the Viper by just 0.15 of a second to take second. This result lifts the Marcos team to second in the championship (I believe, in the absence of results on the website).
** LATEST ** : The Grand Am series in the US came to an end with a 300 mile/3 hour race at the Daytona Speedway. For this event, Cougar Jacobsen, Mark Eaton and Curt Andrews formed the lineup for the singleton Mantis entry.
Practice saw the team in 8th in GT class (33rd overall). Sadly, on race day, the car lasted only 5 laps until an oil leak led it to be the second retirement of the race.
In the Spanish GT series, meanwhile, with the championship already heading the way of the Saleen crew, it was the appearance of the BMS Scuderia team (from the FIA GT series), with their Ferrari 550 Maranellos, which caused the interest.
The Ferraris stormed around (as they pretty much have in the FIA series), to take the front row, whilst the LM600 of Saldana and Amorin was fastest of the Spanish regulars, lining up on row 2 with the Saleen.
Come the race, one of the Ferraris (Bryner/Calderari) hit trouble, but the other, driven by Deletraz and Dor, took a comfortable win. Behind it, the Saleen and LM600 duked it out for second, with the result finally going to the Saleen crew and the Marcos pair taking 3rd to round off the season. This result was enough, however, to guarantee Tomas Saldana 3rd in the drivers ranking (behind the Saleen crew), whilst Ni Amorin, who came in after a couple of races, secured 4th spot.
In the European Endurance Racing Club 100 minute race at Brands on November 2nd, former Marcos GT champion, Calum Lockie was once again on winning form, this time in a BMW M3 (Have you no shame, Calum? :^)).
Calum was robbed of a chance to take the GTO British GT championship this year (his team-mate for most of the year won it, so it seems likely that Calum would've if he'd stayed in the car), so we can only hope that his plans to be out with Cor Euser again in 2003 come to fruition.
There's another EERC race at Donnington on 17th November, in which a number of Mantis Challenge cars are entered. So if you're in the UK and fancy seeing a few Marcos out (in the company of Clios, M3s and Fiestas!) check the EERC site for more info.
Follow the various sportscar series on the Total Motor Sport website.
For information on the BPR GT series, forerunner to the current FIA series visit this excellent page with detailed race reports and photos.