As 2003 starts there's little major Marcos racing news.
The initial Daytona 24 Hour entry shows a GT class Mantis entered for Cor Euser, Peter Van Der Kolk and Rob Knook, all of the Netherlands. There're only 36 cars on this list (way below the normal entry), but there's no sign of the mooted, narrow track Mantara, which Callum Lockie was expecting to drive.
In the UK, changes to the BRDC GT series seem to mean there's little chance of seeing an LM600 out there either and the Mantises all seem to be too uncompetitive to compete in GT3 any more. There's been talk of them being accepted into the Intermarque (formerly Aston-Martin/Porsche) championship, but I've not seen anything definite on that front.
Expect, though, to see the LM600 Evos out in the European GT series to defend the title they won last season.
The Daytona 24 hours saw the Marcos marque represented by just a single Mantis. The car qualified 40th on the grid (the convoluted rules meant it started behind slower cars...) with the all Dutch team of Cor Euser, Rob Knook and Peter Van Der Kolk.
The official race reports showed the following entries for the car :
1:36 p.m. - Lap 18 - The #03 Marcos Mantis has been assessed a 20 second penalty for a pit man over the wall to early and to many men over the pit wall. 2:09 p.m. - UNDER YELLOW - The #03 Mantis goes behind the wall after mechanical problems. ...NOTHING For 12 hours!!!!...
2:02 a.m. - Full Course Caution - Lap 374 - The #03 Marcos Mantis stalled in the chicane. 5:52 a.m. - Running - Lap 486 - The #03 Marcos Mantis has lost the right rear tire and come to a stop in the outside portion of the east horseshoe. He will have to be towed into the pit area by the safety crew. 6:31 a.m. - RUNNING - Lap 506 - The #03 Mantis changes the tire that it lost during its spin and rejoins the race.
Above : The Daytona Mantis at night - Photo Courtesy Grand Am Site
Whilst, Marcos owner, Michael (?) reports :
reports : "Shortly after the race started the Marcos's troubles began. There was noise & vibration from the gearbox area, however the real problem was in the differential, which could be turned manually, then freeze, then could be turned again. The team had to replace gearbox and rear end which cost a lot of time. In the early morning hours the wheels were falling off, as there were problems with the hubs. Midmorning more calamity as a power steering hose failed, damaging the PS pump and also the water pump. However, the car was stuck in the 22nd position, as there wasn't enough time to make enough laps to overtake the 21st car. The team was able to rejoin the race with about twenty minutes left, but on the final lap, to add insult to injury, another wheel parted company."
In spite of all that, though, the car survived to be classified 23rd overall, 11th in the GT class.
Amazingly, the podium was filled with GT cars, with Porsche GT3 RSs taking the win and 3rd, sandwiching a Ferrari 360.
For a car which has never been particularly competitive, such a showing is no disgrace, but it was a far cry from the glory days of racing the works Corvettes for the lead!
In the UK, I understand that the LM600 has been granted the right to run in the GT class of the BRDC GT series and will be able to run larger air restrictors than last year, which should be interesting, if it proves true and the cars are out. Watch this space...
Meanwhile, one of the 1995 Le Mans LM600s was offered for sale at a Coys auction, late last year.
It didn't sell at the auction, but is rumoured to have been sold privately afterwards, but whether it's ever likely to return to the track again, remains to be seen. Some people suggested it would be worth buying and laying up until it becomes eligible for historic racing, as it's Le Mans history will, no doubt, make it a valuable car.
In the UK, one team has announced they'll be running a Mantis in the GT Cup class of the BRDC GT series, with former LM500 entrant, Jeff Wyatt on the driver roster.
The following is the press release from the team.
The Sussex based GT racing team, ISL Motorsport, has entered their Marcos Mantis into the 2003 British Racing Drivers Club's British GT Championship in the GT Cup class.
This season this most prestigious 11 round multi-driver British GT series features varying race distances from 2 x 40 minute 'sprint' races at Knockhill, Scotland, in May, to a 3 hour race over the Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone again in May, to a 1,000 km (approx 5 hours) marathon to be held at the awesome Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium over the August Bank Holiday.
The Marcos will be driven by the established pairing of Alun Edwards and Jeff Wyatt at all 11 rounds, with a third guest driver (to be confirmed at a future date) for the Silverstone and Spa endurance events.
The team and drivers are stepping up to the British series from the burgeoning European Endurance Racing Club Championship that they successfully competed in throughout 2002. '' Whilst it was good to run at the front of the EERC grid last year the team felt that the challenge of racing against different GT marques in the BRDCís new look British GT Championship this year was irresistible. I have to say I am relishing the opportunity to get back to the British series with a competitive GT Cup package'' comments Jeff Wyatt.
Jeff campaigned a recalcitrant Marcos LM 500 in the 1998 British GT Championship, so therefore sees the British GTís as unfinished business. Jeff has been particularly successful in saloon car endurance racing over the past couple of seasons, regularly being a podium finisher. The highlights were a class win at the 2000 Nurburgring 24 Hour in Germany in a BMW M3 group 'A' car and a group 'N' class second finish in the Spa Francorchamps 24 Hour, again in 2000.
Alun Edwards has successfully raced the ISL Motorsport Marcos Mantis in many endurance events and has had several one-off outings in previous British GT events.
Having the requisite experience and with a well prepared race car the team have high hopes for a good seasoned campaign.
In the US, the second round of the Grand Am series saw a pitiful 16 cars start the race and there was no sign of the Marcos team.
The first UK appearance of Marcos racing cars was the opening round of the EERC, at Silverstone.
The Marcos Mantis of Team Tiger (driven by Chris Beighton and Jon Finnemore) were on pole for the 90 minute race, ahead of such luminaries as former BTCC champion, Andy Rouse and former British GT champion, Calum Lockie.
In the race, the Mantis was the dominant force for much of the race, until the gearlever broke. This was fixed and the team managed to fight back to take 3rd overall and 2nd in class.
Former Marcos pedaler, Calum Lockie, was second in a BMW M3 (and winner of his class), whilst Andy Rouse's ex-DTM Mercedes won.
In the BRDC GT series opener, at Donnington, the GT Class car (of Daniel Eagling and Tom Shrimpton) threw a conrod in practice and, with no spare engine, took no further part. The GT Cup car of Jeff Wyatt and Alun Edwards qualified fourth in the class.
In the race, the ISL Mantis was placed 4th in class, one lap down on the class winning Porsche, and behind two Morgan Aero 8s.
The next few weeks see Marcos action (or at least potential), in the Grand Am series, Dutch Supercar Challenge and Belcar series.
Into May and there's been plenty of racing action involving the Marcos marque.
In Spain, the first race at Albacete, on 27th April, saw the Marcos LM600 of Tomas SALDA—A and Luis MONZON line up second on the grid, alongside the Viper of Diez Villaroel and Fernandez. In the first race, the duo took victory, ahead of the Seat Toledo GT of De Castro and Camino and they followed that with a victory over the Seat in the second race to take an early lead in the championship.
In the British GT series, the 2 hour race at Snetterton saw a remarkable performance by the GT class Mantis of Dan Eagling and Tom Shrimpton. The car was qualified 4th overall, just 2 seconds off the pace of the leading Mosler and TVRs.
In the race, the car was able to hang onto the leaders for a while and was fighting a good fight for 4th. Sadly, the engine gave trouble and the car retired at the 1.5 hour mark, having covered 72 laps.
The ISL GT Cup class car sadly blew a piston before practice began.
Next BRDC GT stop was at Knockhill and the Glenn Eagling team car was again showing more pace than a Mantis has ever shown in the UK before. Practice netted a 7th overall, with a strong TVR field ahead, as well as the two Moslers and the improving Xero Corvette.
In the first race, the team placed 8th overall, with the Ultima stealing past to demote them a place from their starting position. In the second race, the team were also placed 8th overall, and in class.
The ISL GT Cup class car of Alun Edwards and Jeff Wyatt, back after Snetterton's disappointment, netted a 14th on the grid and a 12th (4th in class) and a 13th (5th in class) in the races.
In the Euro GT series, the Mantara LM600 Evo of Cor Euser took a victory in one of the two races held at the Nurburgring, Germany on 3/4 May. In the first race, Cor (driving solo) set fastest lap in his battle, but a shock absorber failed, ending his race around half distance.
The second race, however, was more succesful with Cor fighting a tight battle with a Viper and a GT2 Porsche, before the Porsche retired with a driveshaft failure and the Viper fell away with engine trouble. The win gave Cor an early 4th place in the championship.
In the NGT class, it was a bit of a Mantis benefit, with Rob Knook/Peter Van der Kolk winning both races to take a healthy lead in the class.
The US program seems to have ended after Daytona as there was no Marcos representation at Phoenix.
News has come to me, though, of an LM600 racing in Sweden! Dan Nystedt tells me that the car will be out in the six race season, which started on 5th May. However, I can't find any mention of the car on the website in either the first race's report or the second's entry list, although they are there amongst the teams listed.
Finally, after the excellent showing by the Team Tiger Mantis in the first round of the Britcar/EERC series, another Marcos visited the podium at the second round, at Silverstone.
This time it was the Topcats car (former Mantis Challenge runners), of Davies and Parsons, that took third place behind a brace of BMW M3s. Former Marcos star and GT champion, Calum Lockie, again won the race with partner John Cowgill.
Into July now and there's plenty of international racing news to catch up on.
In the UK, Marcos cars have been in action in the BRDC GT series and the EERC/Britcar series.
The BRDC series visited Silverstone on May 26th for a proper 3 hour endurance race. The Eagling/Shrimpton GTO car lined up 8th on the grid, with the GT Cup car of Wyatt and Edwards 18th.
In the race, Eagling/Shrimpton retired after 25 laps, whilst Edwards/Wyatt finished 13th, 6th in GT Cup.
The series then moved onto Castle Combe on June 22nd. The race was notable, from Marcos terms, for the presence of the TFM GT LM600, to be raced by Gerry Taylor and Brian Cowell (who drove the car here in the past). Taylor qualified the car in 8th, behind the best GTO cars, but ahead of all the GTC cars. The car runs in GT trim, but is restricted to bring it in line with the GTOs and the performance of other GT cars, suggest the restriction is a little in favour of the GTOs now.
Eagling and Shrimpton qualified their car in 11th and the Wyatt/Edwards car was 19th.
Things started badly for the TFM team on Sunday, when Cowell decided he wasn't going to race, leaving Gerry Taylor facing the full race distance on his own. Sadly, the car didn't give him the chance as a damaged scavenger oil pump seized the engine on lap one sending the car spinning out.
Castle Combe was beset by a number of incidents and confusion reigned as the pace car was despatched, just as the pitstops started. The race was then stopped to clear wreckage with some cars pitted under the pace car and others at full race pace.
The result of this was that the GTO Mantis of Eagling and Shrimpton was placed 3rd at the restart and it fought hard for some laps to retain that place. In the end it had fallen to 5th, just pipped for 4th by a flying Mike Jordan on the last lap, but that must be the best ever Mantis result in the UK. The Wyatt/Edwards car was placed 5th in GTC.
The Britcar regulars took part in their season highlight, the Willhire 500, at Snetterton.
Run over two legs of 250 miles each, an early challenger was the Chris Beighton Mantis, but this retired after just 11 laps, with transmission problems. The Andrew Davies/Martin Parsons/Charlotte Osborne Mantis was running in 4th at the end of the 1st hour, but fell to 5th after the second.
In the second leg, which was run on aggregate with the 1st, Charlotte Osborne pulled the car into a strong second overall, after Andy Rouse's ex-DTM Cosworth Mercedes retired. Ahead of them was former Marcos regular and now EERC regular, Calum Lockie, in his BMW M3.
This was how they finished with the Mantis taking second overall and a class victory.
LM600s have also been in action in the Euro GT series and in the Spanish GT series.
In the Spanish GT series, there have been races at Jarama (on 18th May) and Estoril (on 6th July). At Jarama, the Meycom LM600 qualified on the front row, alongside the Viper for the first race, but in the race, the Saldana/Monzon crewed car was placed only 12th, one lap behind the winners. Whatever the problem was, the car failed to complete more than a single lap in the second race.
At Estoril, things got distinctly bad for the marque. Cor Euser and Ni Amorin turned up with their LM600 and, despite setting fastest time and performing well (leading at one point and provisionally placed 3rd) in the race, they were excluded on technical grounds. They took no part in the second race, either. The no 2 car of Saldana/Monzon wasn't shown on the final results, either and appeared to take no part in the warm up session, so may have had mechanical problems.
Meanwhile, the Euro GT series (now down to just 3 races this season) visited the A1 Ring in Austria. In the first of two races, Cor Euser's LM600 quickly overtook the pole position Viper, but suffered an exploded brake disk, which put the car out of the race. In the GT class, Rob Knook/Peter van der Kolk took victory in their Mantis.
In the second race, Euser cruised from pole to a comfortable victory, ahead of the Viper, setting fastest lap along the way. Knook/van der Kolk took victory again in the GT class.
Despite winning half the races so far, Euser trails the consistent Viper in the championship, down in 4th place with 45 points to the Viper's 71. In GT, Knook/van der Kolk are well ahead, with 85 points to the second team's 58. Peter Wirichs' Mantis is 3rd with 34 points.
As September draws to a close, the BRDC GT series ends at Brands Hatch on the 28th, with a round on the full GP circuit.
In the meantime, Marcos cars have been in action at Oulton Park, Rockingham, Thruxton and Spa-Francorchamp.
At Oulton, on 13th July, Eagling and Shrimpton qualified in 10th position (slowest of the GTO cars), whilst the GT Cup car of Edwards and Wyatt was down in 20th. In the race, the GT Cup car finished 8th overall, but Eagling and Shrimpton's car retired on lap 22.
Dan Eagling was driving alone at Rockingham, but failed to record a lap in practice, so had to start from the back of the grid. Edwards and Wyatt were down in 15th.
In the race, Eagling performed well initially, but after a lengthy stop, retired around half distance. The GT Cup Mantis was classified 13th, last finisher.
At Thruxton, Eagling (again driving alone) was a promising 9th in practice, with the Edwards/Turvey (on this occasion) car in 16th. The GT Cup car, however, failed to start the race after, I believe, engine failure and Eagling retired the Mantis at 22 laps.
Onto the showpiece event of the year at Spa in Belgium on 31st August, where the cars took part in a race within a race at the Spa-Francorchamps 1000Kms, along with FIA Sportscars (the race winner was the team Goh Audi R8, as raced at Le Mans) and other sportscars, including the Euro GT LM600 of Cor Euser, reunited with former BRDC GT champion, Calum Lockie.
The Eagling car was not entered, but EDWARDS/TURVEY/BONNER entered their GT Cup car and qualified 34th (of 35). Lockie and Euser were fastest invitation class car, in 7th overall (fastest GT by some five and a half seconds!).
The race lasted 6 hours in conditions from bright sunlight to torrential rain (typical Ardennes weather, in other words!). Initially, things went well for the Mantara LM600 crew, running 9th after 1 hour, 14th at two and 12th at 3. However, in the 4th hour, 3rd driver, Jos Menten, span without damaging the car, but a broken starter motor meant he was unable to rejoin the race. A disappointment, but conditions were atrocious.
You can read Calum's report on the race - here.
The Mantis, too, ran quite well, holding 27th place at the 3 hour mark, but it too failed to complete the 4th.
A week earlier, the LM600 had been at Spa for the Euro GT round and started the two race weekend well, taking pole for both races and putting in a fine showing in the early laps of race 1. Unfortunately, the engine failed in the LM600 and the car was sidelined for the rest of the weekend, scoring no points at all.
In the N-GT class, however, Rob Knook was as dominant as he has been all season, taking wins in both races to be crowned Euro N-GT champion in his Mantis.
With the cancellation of the Euro GT round at the Lausitzring, the season has now finished.
The Spanish series, meanwhile, resumes at Cheste on 14th September, with rounds at Jerez and Barcelona, in October and November, which I'll cover when they take place.
The British GT series finished on the inspiring Brands Hatch GP circuit (Two great circuits to round off the season) at the end of September. As well as regular entrants Eagling and ISL, there was a late entry for the TFM LM600.
The three teams had distinctly mixed results. In practice, the LM600 (driven by Gerry Taylor and Paul Stephens on this occasion) lined up 8th, just off the pace of the TVRs. The impressive Eagling Mantis was just two places (and half a second) behind, with Dan being joined by his dad, Glenn (who, at 48, is younger than some of those starting out in GTs!) for this race. The GT Cup class ISL car, driven by Edwards and Bonner for this race, was down amongst the tailenders.
Come race day, the Eaglings drove a great race (with Dan just missing out on drive of the day) to finish 4th overall and 3rd in the GTO class.
Meanwhile, the ISL car played an unwitting part in deciding the championship when it span and was collected by an unlucky Shane Lynch. The collision destroyed Lynch's TVR and sidelined the Mantis.
The LM600, sadly, failed, even, to start the race. Gary Harman explains :
On the Wednesday before the race they were not racing, and I had a text from Paul (Stephens) on Saturday morning saying they would
Practise was fine but in qualifying Gerry had a diff problem and pulled off the track in the last 10 mins of the secession qualifying 8th.
They changed the diff from the old car overnight and they were still working on the car 15 mins before the start of the race.
They started the engine to check it through as there was no practise secession Sunday, and after a few minutes the engine just stopped dead.......end of season...........
Meanwhile, two more rounds of the Spanish GT series took place, at Cheste (in September) and Jerez (in October).
At the Cheste round, Cor Euser was paired with Portugese driver, Ni Amorin. The duo lined up second for the first of the races, behind the SEAT Toledo GT, and on pole for the second race, sharing the front row, again, with the SEAT of former Marcos racers, De Castro and Camino.
In the first race, the team finished fourth and fared worse still, in the second race, placing a lowly ninth.
At Jerez, Euser was back, this time partnered by Juan Bastos. A second LM600, driven by Pedro Mello Breyner and Manuel Mello Breyner (presumably brothers) was entered by the GALP team and lined up fourth for the first race (in which Euser/Bastos had pole) and second for the second race (when Euser/Bastos were only 4th fastest).
The Team Galp car was only classified 18th in the first race, completing 18 of the 24 laps. Euser and Bastos, however, finished on the podium in 3rd place, having fought back after dropping down the field in the early laps.
In the second race, at Jerez, the Galp Team were the most effective Marcos LM600 crew, finishing 4th (having run as high as 2nd during the race) with Euser/Bastos being unclassified after retiring on the first lap.
** LATEST ** - Rounding off the 2003 racing season, the Spanish GT series visited Montmelo, near Barcelona.
The Meycom LM600 was the sole Marcos representative, driven by Tomas Saldana and Luis Monzon. Saldana lined up for the first race on the front role, being pipped for pole by the Diez Villarroel Viper.
Come the race, though, the Viper lost the lead on lap 6 to the fast starting SEAT, but the Marcos was past on lap 10 and into the lead. However, the SEAT (driven by De Castro and Camino) fought back and led laps 14, 15 and 16, after which the LM600 forged ahead again and was never to be headed thereafter.
The front row of the grid was the same for race 2, with Monzon alongside Fernandez in the pole sitting Viper.
This time the Viper could only hold the Marcos off until lap 3. However, on lap 14 the SEAT took the lead for a solitary lap, with the Luis VILLALBA RUIZ/Francesc GUTIERREZ AGUI taking over for a couple of laps thereafter (probably due to pitstops, but I can't find any reports on the race).
The LM600 was back in front on lap 17 and led all the remaining laps to win the race after 30 laps.
A great finish to the year, although, due to a patchy appearance record, no Marcos driver figures prominently in the Championship.
A few Mantises have been out in the late season Britcar/EERC rounds with the Topcats car (driven by Martin Parsons, alone on this occasion) being prevented from starring in the Brands night race after an incident with an MG ZR at the start!
Not entirely the MG's fault, it seems though as there was a VW Bora/Beetle incident which tipped the MG into a spin right in front of the Mantis, which only made the race after a hasty gearbox swap.
Looking to the future, ISL Motorsport have announced that they will once again campaign a Marcos Mantis in the GT Cup class of the 2004 British GT championship.
"We are currently rebuilding the Marcos following the last race at Brands, and this should be completed well before the start of the season," explained team principal Alun Edwards.
"We are looking to run two cars for next year but with the recent changes to the championship we are currently waiting to see which direction we are heading," he added. "We are looking for another Marcos but there is possibly an option to go for something completely different."
The team's long-term sponsors - Inter Sport of Lewes and Chameleon Designs - are remaining loyal to the team, but the search for drivers is now on. ISL are inviting anyone interested in competing to contact them at: email@example.com.
So that's it for 2003 - The LM600 is still a force to be reckoned with, when properly run, and there have been a few good results for Mantis (against, admittedly, weaker competition), but it would be good to see a return to top level competition for the marque.
So, what's the plan for 2004, then, Cor?