1998 Race Results
BRDC GT Series Races
FIA GT Series
Patrick Peter's GT Series
Marcos in GT racing in 1998
In the UK the big news is that Marcos have launched a new one-make series - the Marcos Mantis Challenge - which will support the Privilege Insurance Championship at all the rounds bar the Grand Prix meeting. The racing Mantis uses a 32 valve, 4.6 litre V8 turning out 400 bhp, which should guarantee some lively racing.
The cars will be eligible for the Privilege races too (in GT2), which will give the drivers the chance to spread the cost of the cars and allow two races per meeting.
There are expected to be 15 cars out by the first round (at Silverstone on April 5) despite the fact that a customer rolled the first car in a demo run. Fortunately only the body was damaged and it's out and about again.
Good news on the FIA GT front is, despite not reaching the minimum cars constructed for GT2, the FIA and all the other GT2 teams have agreed to let the LM600 compete in the FIA GT series in 1998. Expect to see Cor's car out in both the GT series and Patrick Peter's GTR series.
1998 will be a bumper year for European GT fans as Eurosport have announced an impressive TV package with two 50 minute programs on each GTR round and live coverage of all but one (Hungary) of the FIA rounds. If you like GT racing, get yourself a satellite system today, especially as Eurosport is not a subscription channel. The two series mean a great year for British GT fans, especially, as there are 4 International rounds scheduled for the UK.
The 1998 GT Racing season got underway at the GTR Euroseries round at Jarama on March 22nd. There was a '97 spec McLaren present which blitzed the rest of the, sparse, field by 5 seconds. However, second fastest, 3 seconds ahead of the rest of the field, was Cor Euser's LM600, bedecked in its colourful new Fly Slotcar backed livery.
The race proved a little disappointing as the gearbox broke within 30 minutes of the start. However, the team fixed it within 15 minutes and finished in 11th place, having been the second fastest car on the track throughout.
Meanwhile, on April 4th, both the BRDC GT and Mantis Challenge series got underway. One Mantis raced in GT2 in the BRDC race, but it and the LM500 and LM600 also entered in the class, failed to finish.
New Zealander, Neil Cunningham was the first winner of a Mantis Challenge race, taking a dominant win in the opening event at Silverstone. After the race, he praised the car and opined that the series had a great future. Already, team owner, Martin Braybrook, is talking of taking the Mantis to Le Mans to race in GT2 at some time in the future.
On a sadder note, there will be no Marcos presence at Le Mans this year. It seems that the team decided that, in the absence of funds to hire top quality drivers, to sit out the 1998 event. Let's hope they're back soon.
In the first round of the FIA GT series on April 12th in Germany, Cor Euser and Harald Becker put on a great showing to harry the ex-F1 driver pedalled Vipers of the Oreca team.
From the start, Cor led with the Beretta/Lamy car only taking over shortly before the first round of pit stops. The Marcos looked set for a 2nd place in class (having taken the GT2 pole after an wing endplate infraction saw the fastest Viper lose its time) until the Brabham/Bernard GT1 Panoz clumsily barged the Marcos with Becker at the wheel. The bonnet was torn off, taking the body work catches with it and a number of lengthy stops were required to tape the bonnet into a strong enough position to race at full speed.
Despite this, the car fought its way up to 7th in GT2, on the same lap as the 4th placed car. Not a great result on paper, but the car was clearly faster than any of the GT2 Porsches and ran reliably throughout.
After a brief dice with Andy Purvis, Neil Cunningham took round 2 of the Mantis Challenge to go with his opening round victory. In the BRDC GT round, also at Oulton Park on May 4th, the LMs were out of the results, although Russell Morgan and Simon Duerden's Mantis was classified 15th overall.
At Paul Ricard in round two of the GTR Euroseries, a fuel tank fire on the warming up lap saw Cor Euser and Christian Vann start their spare car from the back of the grid. Despite this, they worked their way back up to the lead of the race, until a punctured radiator led to a lengthy pit stop. The car was finally placed eighth.
Most of the big teams were at Le Mans on the 3rd of May for the pre-qualifying. Chances are that the Marcos LM600 would've got into the race easily, looking at the GT2 field, but of course they aren't going. Next chance of glory is Silverstone's FIA GT race on the 17th May.
More races came and went since the beginning of May. In the FIA GT series, Silverstone's Pre Le Mans race saw disappointment for Cor's team when gearbox failure took them out of 2nd in class. They didn't have much more luck in Misano, where a GTR Euroseries race (to replace the cancelled Brno round) took place. The team led for a while (after running behind a WSC Ferrari 333 - really eligible for the GTR Series?), but a jammed fuel filler and sticking wheel nuts (Heh, I've had that problem on my Marcos!) saw the car drop as low as sixth. They fought back to 4th overall by the race end.
In the BRDC GT series, results haven't been great. At Oulton Park, in a wet/dry race, a lone Mantis made it home, classified 15th overall, but last finisher and at the Croft Round, the cars finished near the back of the finishers. At times the Millenium LM600 has looked quick, but the results haven't reflected that promise. It's beginning to look as though the pace of BRDC GT GT2 development is outstripping the LM600 runners.
The Mantis challenge, continues, with journalist Mark Hales breaking Neil Cunningham's stranglehold on the series with a win at Croft.
Having missed Le Mans, Cor's LM600 returned to action at the 28th June Hockenheim FIA GT round. On the fast straights of the German circuit, Cor did well to get the Marcos between the work's Vipers, by removing virtually all the downforce. Eurosport reported that his team-mates were frightened to drive the car in that spec!
Sadly, the race resulted in another DNF when the engine overheated, possibly as a result of an off course excursion early in the race. It did circulate later on in Cor's hands, but returned to the pit shortly afterwards.
In the BRDC GT, the LM500 and LM600, by contrast, are looking a spent force. Whilst Euser's car battles with F1 drivers in full works V10s, the British cars are struggling to keep up with the lowly 911 GT2 and the likes of the Vipers, Esprit and TVR Cerberas are well away. A pity, given the obvious potential still in the LM600, at least.
The Mantis challenge continues, with Neil Cunningham returning to winning ways in round 3, at Croft.
July was a busy month, with two FIA GT races in a fortnight. At Dijon, the Marcos starred in Saturday morning practice, lining up amongst the GT1s (in 6th overall) as wet weather peppered the session. Come the second session, however the car dropped down to 4th in GT2. The race started reasonably well, but a differential failure saw retirement again.
At the Hungaroring the following week, Cor took GT2 pole as the FIA offered non-Viper GT2 cars the choice of lighter weight or bigger air restrictors. The Marcos team chose the latter, with good effect. In the race, the Marcos looked a strong early leader, until delayed by a 10 second stop-and-go penalty for refuelling within 5 minutes of the restart of the race (caused by mayhem amongst the GT1s at the first start). This seemed a rather bizarre infringement and despite running strongly all race, the Marcos couldn't quite recover the lost time and finished 3rd in GT2 (8th overall!) on the same lap as the Roock Porsche and Viper ahead of it. After a disappointing season, a podium place may sound like a great result, but I felt dissapointed it wasn't a first and I suspect the MRI team felt the same deep down. Still, there are more races to come and the revised regulations seem to have added spice to the GT2 class on the strength of the one race.
With the car effectively fighting top class entries in the FIA series, it's increasingly depressing to note that Marcos entries in the BRDC British series fail to make any real impression. In the British GP support round, Andy Purvis and Bob Sands actually got their LM600 into 13th place overall, 5th in GT2, which, by this years standard, rates as a good result. The, admitedly lower spec, Mantis finished 19th overall and last classifed finisher a lap behind the LM600.
The Mantis challenge is still looking a little thin on entries, but some of the races have been exciting (lending more evidence to the theory that only two cars are needed to make a race) and I'm told that interest in next year's series is already running high. Neil Cunningham continues to lead the way, but Nick Staveley broke the Cunningham stranglehold with a win in the wet at Snetterton.
One of Cor Euser's MRI cars was out in the poorly supported GTR Euroseries round at the Nurburgring on July 19. Handled by, sometime FIA series runner, Christian Vann and Jorg(?) Buurman, the car was a challenger for race victory amongst the massed 911 GT2 runners, but suffered gearbox problems early on, which restricted it to 6th, 11 laps behind the winners.
The CMI rally was held at the BRDC GT round at Donnington on 3rd August and, at last, the assembled Marcos owners had something to cheer about. Andy Purvis and Thomas Erdos set third fastest time in GT2 in practice. Sadly, this didn't equate to a good race as the car was delayed with a clutch failure, which was fixed, but failed again. However, until that point the car showed (in the words of the Sportscar World report) "real potential". Perhaps an indication that all that's really holding the Marcii back in the BRDC series is less than top notch drivers?
The Mantis Challenge cars were also out at Donnington and their lap times were interesting. The best lap, set by Neil Cunningham was 1m 15.744s which equates to 93.028 mph. This was faster, on the day, than the Porsches, Ferraris, Formula Ford 1600s and the clubmans cars with 1600 K series engines . Only the well developed, and more powerful, TVR Tuscans, GTs and Formula Palmer Audis were faster. The winner at Donnington, again, was Neil Cunningham, although Nick Staveley led and looked a good bet for victory until an incident late in the race.
August 23rd 1998 turned out to be a good day for Marcos. In the grueling Suzuka 1000Km in Japan, Cor Euser's LM600 first took pole from the Vipers then led the early laps, until the V10 powered cars slipped ahead. Despite losing ground to the Vipers over the near 7 hours of the race, Cor, Harald Becker and Christian Vann beat all the GT2 Porsches by two clear laps to take their second podium placing in two races.
On the same day, at a drenched Silverstone, Euser's former BPR team-mate, Thomas Erdos joined forces with Andy Purvis to produce the most impressive BRDC series performance of the year for Marcos, so far.
After setting second fastest time in practice in GT2, Once again, however, it was a GT2 Viper which caused the problems as Kurt Luby and Richard Dean took their GT2 car to the first GT2 outright victory of the season. Erdos and Purvis finished the race 3rd in GT2, 6th overall, but Erdos had the added pleasure of taking the race's fastest lap overall, just ahead of the Lister's and McLaren F1!
Neil Cunningham once again showed his class by leading the Mantis challenge race from start to finish, heading Nick Staveley home by a narrow margin.
Things got even better at the FIA GT race at Donnington. First Cor took another GT2 pole and then held the Vipers and Ortelli Roock Porsche 911 at bay for the whole of the first hour.
The car fell back a little in the hands of Harald Becker and Christian Vann, but the former was back up to third in class with just two laps to go. That lap, however, he lost the place to a charging Konrad Porsche. The second Viper was then called in for a 60 second stop-and-go penalty, dropping to 4th in the class.
Becker kept the pressure up on the Porsche and on the final lap, just two corners from the flag, the Konrad Porsche half span and Becker swept past to take Marcos' best result of the season, 2nd in GT2. After Austria, what chance a victory in the Viper's backyard?
Things didn't go so well for Marcos in Austria. Despite setting fastest time in the first qualifying session and joint fastest in the second (to the nearest thousandth of a second) the car started second in class, behind the Roock Porsche of Ortelli, due to setting the fastest time after the Porsche. Still, not bad, but the race saw a lousy start, a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start (Not that they got any advantage from it) and retirement after 46 laps.
So a disappointing outing in Austria, but the team could still take second or third in the GT2 championship with a couple of good results in the US.
The BRDC boys, meanwhile, were off on their first outing abroad, taking in the awesome Spa circuit. Thomas Erdos and Andy Purvis led the Marcos challenge and what a challenge it turned out to be. In practice, Erdos only missed out on GT2 pole due to running out of fuel near the end of his fastest lap, but his best time was still good enough to line up second in GT2.
Come the race, Andy Purvis set a steady pace until two other cars span in front of him at the Bus Stop chicane. Andy had to go across the high kerbs to avoid the two cars and damaged the floor and an oil pipe under the car. Things didn't look good at this stage of the race as the oil temperature started to climb and the floor came loose, compromising the LM600s aerodynamic downforce.
Purvis handed over to Erdos, who came out in a still competitive third in GT2, behind Geoff Lister's Porsche and the Dodge Viper. The Viper dropped out after tyre vibrations caused by a flat spot caused Kurt Luby to miss his braking point and ended his race in the gravel trap.
With 4 laps to go, Geoff Lister had to pit after picking up a puncture and his slow return to the pit destroyed his 16 second lead over Erdos' damaged Marcos. Despite the car's damage, Erdos rolled off the remaining laps to take GT2 victory on, without doubt, the most daunting circuit in the series.
To complete a good day for Marcos, Ian Croft bought his Mantis home in 13th place overall.
So, a great result, especially after the rather lacklustre performances of the Marcii in the early BRDC rounds, but could the car be repaired in time for the next race, just a week later at Silverstone?
And whilst all this was going on a Marcos won its class at Le Mans. Admittedly it wasn't the 24 hours and the class was GT4 not GT2, but regular Mantis Challenge winner, Neil Cunningham, and Carl Breeze, no doubt enjoyed their run in the French GT series supporting the ISRS round at La Sarthe circuit.
In the final round of the BRDC GT series at Silverstone, Thomas Erdos set another stunning lap to be 6th fastest qualifier overall and fastest GT2.
Come the race, he and Andy Purvis put on a great show to set a new GT2 lap record and take 2nd in GT2 behind the flying Lotus Esprit.
After a shaky start, Tommy's input on the setup and driving front have lifted the LM600 back up to the position of GT2 pacesetter.
In the end, another good season for Marcos with Andy Purvis finishing 14th and Thomas Erdos 16th in the championship, although their GT2 placings were much higher, in the 6th-8th place range, I believe.
Bad news on the FIA GT series front came in the form of disqualification from the Donnington round (from 2nd in GT2) due to traces of non-FIA fuel being found in the tank, apparently being fuel purchased from a local roadside filling station!
I'm all in favour of strong regulations and rules are rules, but the announcement of the fuel testing results were made so late that the Marcos Racing International team were unable to protest the finding. Surely, both sides should have the same rights in such cases?
The trip across the Atlantic for the FIA GT series started well for Cor Euser, Harald Becker and Christian Vann.
At Homestead, near Miami, Florida, Cor put the car on pole ahead of the Vipers, keen to perform well on their home turf, although Harald Becker's involvement in the race was put in doubt after a road accident before practice. A second Marcos from the MRI team was also present for Manno Schaafsma and Herrman Buurman
After problems with their engine in the morning warm-up, the Marcos LM600 driven by Cor Euser, Harald Becker and Christian Vann, finished in third place, behid the winning Viper and the Ortelli/Hurtgen Porsche 911. The second Viper retired with an axle failure and the second Marcos also failed towards the end of the race (and was classified 20th overall, although it had never run at anything like the pace of Euser, Becker and Vann's car.
"It was very hot in the car, but everything went according to plan," Euser said. "But the car went well, and the mechanics did a great job. When the water pump failed this morning, and the temperature went up to 130, we were afraid to lose the engine. But we are very happy to be on the podium."
Before the Homestead race, Cor Euser ran his 'fast' LM600 in the 1000 mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. This event, organised to ACO rules by Don Panoz, owner of the Panoz marque, attracted a great field, including most of the Professional Sportscar runners, notably numerous Ferrari 333SPs, Riley & Scotts, Panoz (3, including the revolutionary twin engined car with the electric motor) and the Champion Porsche GT1 to 1997 spec, and a works Porsche GT1-98 in the hands of Yannick Dalmas and Alan McNish.
Qualifying went pretty well, with the car lining up a creditable 1st in GT2 and inside the top 12 overall. However, the race was to be short as the car broke down with a seized differential early on after the car was stripped (ironically, given the Donnington events) of its grid position due to having traces of FIA legal fuel in its tank. However, Cor was impressed by the circuit and announced (in an interview shown on Eurosport) that he was considering running a car in the US next year if "the rules suit our car".
The final round of the FIA GT series was held at Laguna Seca. I've long been a fan of the circuit from watching it on TV and as long ago as March I booked a week off with the intention of , just maybe, visiting San Fransisco and the race. My wife and I ummed and ahhhed about it for months, but then, just 3 days before we flew out, we bit the bullet and shelled out for tickets to San Fransisco.
I'll post more about our trip in the diary section, but suffice to say Laguna Seca lived up to my expectations (and then some!) and I got to see a Marcos race on two days running. Cor Euser and Herman Buurmann took the opportunity to have an extra race in the Professional Sportscar series race on Saturday. The car used was the 'slow car' (number 71 in the FIA series) and for reasons I never understood it was forced to start from last position on the grid.
As the race started, the pouring rain (so much for "It never rains in California"!) abated, only for thick fog to roll in, causing the first 3 laps to be run behind a pace car. Once the weather cleared a little, Cor quickly carved through the GT3 and GT2 runners to make it up to second in GT2, albeit someway behind the swift Konrad/Lammers 911 GT2, which stayed on the lead lap for a long time, helped by good economy and a few more pace car incidents.
A great battle at the front between Ferrari 333SPs, the BMW powered R&S cars and the Panozes was finally settled in favour of the R&S/BMW V8 of Didier De Radigues, whilst Cor and Hans Buurmann (running well) wound up an excellent 9th overall and 2nd in GT2.
This bode well for the FIA GT event and qualifying, directly after the Professional Sportscars event (Cor had to run from the podium to get out in his car in the 15 minute GT2 only session), saw the LM600 once again challenging for GT2 pole, only slipping just behind Ortelli's Porsche in the last few moments of practice.
Sunday dawned warm (out of the wind, anyway) and sunny and Cor Euser was second fastest in GT2 warm up, behind the lead Viper. Come the race, Cor dropped temporarily behind the lead Viper and Ortelli's Porsche, only to get past both shortly afterwards, presumably due to an incident missed by us and the TV cameras. However, before the hour was up the 70 car vanished and the slower 71 car also stopped out on the circuit around the same time (in fact 10 or so laps later), after an early pitstop. GT2 casualties were high in the season finale, but given the great run on Saturday, it was disappointing for the team, especially following on from the loss of the 2nd place points from Donnington.
The good news, though, is that Cor intends to carry on in 1999 (regulations permitting) and the Marcos could be challenging for outright victories (assuming the GT1s join the WSC Ferraris, Audis, BMWs and Riley & Scotts in a sprint series as proposed) if a little more durability can be found from the car and the Dunlop tyres.
Roll on 1999…