Into 2007, some 8 years after the Mantis Challenge series was run and there are still Mantises taking part in top level motorsport.
Most notable is the Team Tiger car which reaces in the British GT series.
In the hands of Chris Beighton and Jon Finnemore, the GTC class car was once again wheeled out for round one of the series, at the daunting Oulton Park circuit.
The car encountered troubles in practice and was forced to start from the back of the grid, but the car's (and drivers') pace shone through as the car scythed through the fairly small GTC class in round one to finish first in class and 15th overall.
In the second race at Oulton, the car was once again the class of the GTC category. Despite an off course excursion with Chris Beighton at the wheel, the car took a comfortable class victory and 10th overall in a race which saw the GT3 class reduced by accidents.
Sadly for the team, the Donnington round (which was always likely to be the team's last race for a while) was to be a disaster.
No sooner had practice begun than the expensive new engine blew up.
Daily Sportscar reported :
"As Jon Finnemore rounded Goddards in the Team Tiger Marcos Mantis, the car’s brand new engine threw a conrod, and that was all we will see of the GTC leader this weekend. “I’m going home to watch Manchester United beat Middlesbrough this afternoon,” announced a disappointed Chris Beighton, “that might cheer me up!”
"It is still possible that the Mantis will make an appearance or two towards the end of the season, but it will be sorely missed this weekend and its absence reduces GTC to just three cars."
Sadly the car never returned to the series after that and, with a switch to GT4 for the second class in the BGT series, it looks like the Tiger Mantises race days are over.
There are no Marcoses running in Belcar this year, but there are a number of Marcos runners out in the Dutch Supercar Challenge.
The first round was held at the Nurburgring, where two races were held.
In the first, Helmert and Isaac van der Slik's Supersports 1 class Marcos Mantis was placed 16th overall, with Jan De Wit's similar car 19th and Nol Kohler's 28th.
Kohler was placed 23rd in the second race, but sadly the other two cars retired.
In Spain, meanwhile, there is a Mantis running in GTB with Nevoa and Putten back at the wheel. Sadly, the car seems to have reached the end of its competitive life in the Spanish series, with disappointing results (24th and 26th) in the two races held at the first round at Jarama.
Meanwhile, a familiar car has reappeared in a familiar colour scheme, ready for the FIA 90s GT revival races at Silverstone (May 4-6) and Magny Cours.
Gary Harman sent me this shot of LM95-002, one of the two cars run by the factory in the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours (the one that finished, driven by Leslie, Marsh and Migault) in a recent shake down test.
This car has been owned by Gerry Taylor for some years and campaigned by him (as well as by NCK earlier on) in the British GT series, but it was sold last year and is now returned to its original livery, ready for FIA 1990s GT racing.
It's certainly looking good, so if you can get to Silverstone, I suggest you do as, as well as the FIA GT and GT3 series, you will be able to see this car up against McLaren F1s, Ferrari F40s and contemporary Porsches.
The second round of the Spanish GT series took place at Jerez on 5th/6th May.
Things went better for the Nevoa/Putten Mantis here, suggesting my fears for its competitiveness were a little premature.
In the first race, the pairing were placed 17th overall, 6th in GTB.
They followed this up with a GTB podium (3rd in class) and an impressive 11th overall.
On the same weekend the 1995 Le Mans LM600 was wheeled out at Silverstone in the GT90s revival event that supported the FIA GT race.
The car recorded a best lap in free practice of 2:16:35, but failed to register any times in practice or appear on the grid for either race.
There was plenty of action in the Dutch Super Car Challenge in 2007.
Races took place at Zolder, Spa, Oschersleben, Assen and Silverstone (supporting the Britcar 24 Hour
At Zolder, in June, the van der Slik's were placed 7th in Supersports, with Jan De Wit 12th and Bert and Patrick Moritz 14th in the first race. In the second race, De Wit was 10th with the Moritz pairing 15th. the van der Slik's retired (as Nol Kohler had from race 1).
Later in June the DSC runners were at Spa. In race 1, Nol Kohler was 19th overall, Bert Moritz 23rd and Cor Euser 43rd, whilst Jan de Wit wasn't classified.
In race 2, Bert Moritz was best (and only) placed Mantis racer, in 20th.
The next race was at Oschersleben in Germany, but few Marcos runners made the trip.
The Moritzes were placed 6th in their first race, running with the Sports runners.
In the second race, they managed a 4th place.
At the Rizzla racing days at Assen, in August, Cor Euser and Wim Noorman entered their Mantis+ cars in the top class. Euser qualified 3rd with Noorman right alongside in 4th.
Sadly, for reasons unknown to me, Euser failed to start race one, whilst Noorman was placed 15th at the finish. The vd Sliks were the only regular Marcos runners to be classified in 23rd overall.
In the second race, Noorman's car performed better and they were rewarded with 7th overall. Euser ran in this race, but DNF'd as did the regulars.
Moving onto September, the DSC runners were back in Assen to support the Champcar race. Euser (and Danny van Dongen in Noorman's car) returned to the GT class.
Euser qualified on pole, with Van Dongen in 4th.
The first race promised much, but delivered less, for the Marcos runners, with Euser leading impressively in the early stages of race one before brake problems caused him to stop after 7 laps. Van Dongen had pulled out after just 5 laps, leaving Nol Kohler as best Marcos runner at the end of the race (in 17th overall). Sijthoff/Visch and the Moritz pairing were 27th and 28th overall.
Things improved dramatically in race 2, as Danny van Dongen took advantage of changeable weather conditions and clever pit strategy to take the overall win.
Jeroen van de Heuvel was an impressive 12th in his Mantis with the vd Sliks 27th, Sijthoff-Visch 30th, the Moritzs 33rd, Kohler 42nd and Euser's car was classified down in 48th after losing a wheel after 6 laps.
Next race was at Silverstone, supporting the Britcar 24 hour race, and the Topcats team entered their Marcos Mantis+ in the GT division.
In race 1, the Topcats car, driven by Mick Mercer and Richard Fores, finished 6th, but they failed to start the second race.
The final race was back at Spa in October. Cor Euser and former Spanish GT racer Bermudez de Castro put Cor's GT Division Mantis+ into 5th place on the grid in qualifying, with the Bert and Patrick Moritz 21st in their SS1 division Mantis and Helmert and Isaac vd Slik 26th on the grid for race 1 in theirs.
The Mantis+ pairing finished the first race in 9th with the vd Sliks in 12th (a good result) The Moritz car was placed 23rd.
Things didn't go so well in the season finale, though, with the Euser car retiring after 5 laps and the vd Sliks and Moritzs finishing in 19th and 20th.
In Spain, meanwhile, Antonio Coimbra and Antonio Nogueira rolled their LM600 out for the Estoril round at the end of May.
The pairing qualified the car 14th for race 1, backed up by Cor Euser/Bermudez de Castro in their Mantis+ in 20th place and Pedro Nevoa and Fred Van Putten in 30th.
In the race, it was the slowest car that delivered the best result. The Nevoa/van Putten car making a great start and building on that to steadily climb through the field to a 10th overall (2nd in GTB) at the finish.
The LM600 by contrast had a bad start, climbing back through the field, but slumping down the field after the pitstops. The Euser car made steady progress early on but dropped down the field quickly after the stops.
In the second race, the LM600 came on stronger. It made steady progress from 18th (where it finished in race 1) to finish 9th overall
The Nevoa/van Putten car was as high as 8th at one point, but dropped to 19th at the end of the race, falling down the field after the 13th lap. The Euser car made a good start, but little progress after that to be classified a distant 29th overall, 3 laps down on the race winner.
Albacete in June was the next round and we were back to just the Nevoa/Van Putten Marcos Mantis.
The pairing qualified a lowly 29th here, but climbed to 18th overall (3rd in GTB) by the end of the race.
In the second race, they were 17th, again 3rd in class.
The next round was not until September when the series visited Valencia.
Euser was back with L.de Castro and they finished 15th in race 1, one place ahead of Nevoa/Van Putten.
In race two, Nevoa and Van Putten were classified 17th with the Euser car only 21st.
The Spanish GT series ended in Jerez in October.
Sadly, Nevoa and Van Putten failed to make qualifying (presumably after problems in untimed practice), leaving only Jose Luis Bermudez de Castro and Cor Euser representing the Marcos marque in their Mantis.
They qualified last (30th) and finished second from last (a more respectable sounding 20th) in the first race.
They managed to make it up to 19th in the second race at a rather disappointing meeting for the marque.
The most significant race in which Marcoses took part in 2007 was the Britcar 24 hours.
As in the past, Marcos was well represented, with 5 Marcos Mantis coupes entered.
The Topcats team had done well in the past and qualified 10th for the race. Chesterton Commercial's car was 13th (a GT3 runner) with Cor Euser's Marcos Racing International car 25th, Jemco's 27th and ISL's 29th.
All the teams suffered mixed fortunes in the race, although, unlike in 2006, all were classified as finishers.
The following charts the hour by hour position of the 5 cars.
|No||Team||Grid Posn||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||Laps||Behind Winner|
|24||Topcats||10||9||8||5||10||6||11||10||no stats||5||7||8||11||no stats||5||5||15||25||24||no stats||24||24||26||27||28||461||-135|
|12||Chesterton||13||36||49||44||42||45||37||41||no stats||33||35||40||44||no stats||45||44||44||41||40||no stats||38||36||35||36||36||420||-176|
|27||MRI||25||43||51||51||50||49||46||43||no stats||40||39||34||33||no stats||32||31||32||29||28||no stats||28||27||27||26||26||467||-129|
|36||Jemco||27||16||17||25||25||20||18||19||no stats||39||42||39||42||no stats||43||43||42||42||42||no stats||40||39||38||37||37||404||-192|
|31||ISL||29||30||27||21||34||25||28||24||no stats||26||25||26||26||no stats||26||25||24||24||18||no stats||18||17||15||14||16||505||-91|
So, the first shall be last, as the slowest qualifier finished best placed in a creditable 16th overall.
Topcats performed well until delayed, running as high as 5th for a number of hours and Marcos Racing International deserve special mention for fighting back from massive delays early on.
So, with Marcos out of business again, it seems unlikely that new cars will be developed for racing and, whilst some teams soldier on with cars now up to 13 years old, the cars are clearly reaching the limits of their competitive lives as newer, more modern designs become increasingly common.
Only time will tell if a Marcos can win a race in 2008, but don't write them off just yet...