Rolex Daytona 24 Hours - 3/4 February 2001

LM600 takes a break at Daytona
LM600 takes a break - Photo courtesy

British GT champion Calum Lockie and the Memec-backed Marcos Racing International Marcos LM600 Mantara were among the real stars of the annual Rolex 24 Hours race at Daytona, Florida, over the weekend of February 3/4.

In some of the toughest conditions in the history of the race, Calum and his co-drivers Cor Euser and Herman Buurman took the fight to the might of General Motors. Had it not been for a minor component failure, the Marcos team could even have won the race outright, and finishing second was well within reach.

'We had an absolute cracker of a race,' said an elated Calum after the race. Despite losing three hours in the pits during the night, the Memec car still finished fourth in class and 20th overall from the 90 cars that set out to qualify for the race.

Having qualified the car fourth in class and 23rd overall, Cor started the race on Saturday afternoon and saw speeds of 312km/h on the banking at the famous track. 'Cor got us off to a great start,' said Calum. When the GTS class-leading Chevrolet Corvettes had a moment, Cor nipped through to take the class lead, holding a superb 11th overall.

Calum took over at the first driver change and rejoined the race in third place after the pit stop, only headed in class by the leading Corvette and a Porsche 911GT1. Calum was delighted to match the pace set by Cor and was equally pleased to be running ahead of the Corvette of Dale Earnhart, one of America's greatest racing drivers.

LM600 at speed on Daytona banking
LM600 at speed on Daytona banking - Photo courtesy

Through into the evening, the Marcos matched the Corvettes as conditions alternated, even though Calum had not done any wet weather testing at Daytona. 'You just have to get on with it! We were running in fifth overall at one point and second in class, although we lost a bit of time during pace cars and full course yellows,' said Calum.

This running battle with the mighty Corvettes ran all the way to midnight, around half-way through the race. 'It was going better than we could have hoped,' said Calum. However, disaster was about to strike when a bolt in the power steering bracket broke. Although it was only a minor component, it had to be changed and was very difficult for the engineers to reach. A total of three hours were lost, along with any chance of a good result.

Undaunted, the team rejoined the race at around 3am, with Cor and Calum doing the bulk of the driving through until dawn. The conditions were appalling, with rain and heavy spray causing numerous accidents. 'It was very hard work, the conditions were very tough,' said Calum who had a major scare when pulling 190mph on the banking as a slow car appeared out of the spray just ahead of him.

Having hauled themselves back up to fourth in class, disaster almost struck in the final hour of the race when Herman pulled into the pits with rising water temperatures. The water pump belt had skipped off, but an ingenious fix by one of the engineers soon had the car running again, to finish fourth in class and one place ahead of the second Marcos Racing International entry. To cap it all, the pair of cars finished in convoy right behind the class winning Corvettes.

The fact that the final result was far less than it should have been failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Calum and the team. 'It was just amazing. We could have won the race, or finished second at least. But we have proven that we can run against the very top manufacturer teams in the world.'

With continued backing from Memec, Calum is already planning a return assault on the Daytona race in 2002.

Many thanks for this report to Melindi and Calum - You can follow Calum's activities in 2001 on his website, but you'll hear how he's doing right here!

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