1997 Race Results
BRDC GT Series Races
BPR GT Series & Other International GT Races
Marcos in GT racing in 1997
1997 sees a similar mix to 1996, with Cor Euser fielding a 2 car Team Marcos entry in GT2 of the FIA GT series and a collection of privateer (some works backed) LM600s and LM500s (including one intriguing supercharged 500) running in GT2 and GT3 in the BRDC series.
With two rounds of the FIA GT series gone (Hockenheim and Silverstone), it was fairly apparent that, whilst some development had, no doubt, gone on over the winter, the LM600 is no longer the dominant force it was last year. The arrival of works Dodge Vipers upped the level of performance enormously and the return to 1996 air restrictors saw the Porsches find levels of performance that only the best could aspire to in 1996.
At Hockenheim, both Marcos were off the pace of the top Porsches and all the Vipers and succumbed early on in the race to electrical gremlins. In May, at Silverstone in the pouring rain, a good qualifying session saw Becker/Euser second in GT2 by just 1/10th second, but a crash on lap 43 brought retirement. The second car didn't appear in the final results, although it appeared to be running at the end of the race from TV pictures.
Meanwhile in the British BRDC GT championship, the opening two rounds at Silverstone and Brands Hatch provided wildly differing results for the marque.
In the opening round at Silverstone, Nick Carr took 6th overall and 2nd in GT2, whilst Simon Tate's LM500 took second in GT3 and 12th overall. Whilst on the GP circuit at Brands, initial strong showings in GT2 and GT3 were ultimately rewarded with retirement and a slow finish with clutch failure for the two LM600s of Purvis and Carr respectively and another second in GT3 for Simon Tate, after a very promising early run.
The one ray of sunshine in the international 1997 season up until this point came at Le Mans pre-qualifying on May 4th and 5th. Amongst a high quality and quantity field, Marcos managed to pre-qualify both cars sent, although the slower of these will need to find some extra speed before June to ensure that they are not bumped off the final grid.
The third round of the FIA GT series was the poorly attended Helsinki street race. In the absence of the Works Vipers, the GT2 battle looked just like later races from 1996 with the Rook Porsche battling the Marcos of Euser and, this year, German Becker.In addition, the team's second car was in the GT2 points (6th in class) until shortly before the end of the 3 hour race when damage from a punt from a GT1 car led to fire.
On this occasion the Porsche won by 27 seconds, but the result must have been a welcome boost to the Marcos team after a shaky start. Just what was needed with Le Mans only 3 weeks away.
At Donnington, on June 1, Purvis and Astley took a good 4th overall in the BRDC race, although this equated to 3rd in GT2. In GT3, Simon Tate's LM500 once again finished second in class, albeit 12th overall and well down on the leaders after a hard race, with a number or non-starters.
Le Mans, in June, turned out to be a great disappointment for Marcos with one car failing to qualify and the other expiring in less than an hour and a half with a massive oil leak, witnessed by Eurosport viewers. When the team announces that they are pulling out to save damaging a £36,000 engine, you begin to wonder if, sadly, there is any place for Marcos at Le Mans these days. The car certainly looked quick enough to compete in GT2, but it's a long race and retiring after a dozen or so laps doesn't improve the marque's image much.
Back in the British series, an excellent meeting at Oulton Park saw Millennium Motorsport hurriedly repair the LM600 damaged in testing in time for it to lead a class 1-2 for the team. The Astley/Purvis car also took 3rd overall ahead of their 4th placed team mates.
July saw the FIA and BRDC series having races. In the FIA series, at the Nurburgring, Euser and Becker showed well in practice, setting a time only slightly slower than the fastest Viper for 2nd in GT2 (despite only running in one session, to save money...). However, in the race the car retired after 85 laps. Whilst at the British GP support round, Simon Tate finally broke a run of second places in GT3 by taking a class win to take the championship lead in the class.
Spa was good for Euser and Becker, with them battling hard with the two works Dodge Vipers and taking a good 3rd in GT2 in both qualifying and the race. The next FIA race at the A1-Ring in Austria started well, with the Marcos splitting the Vipers, but sump problems stopped a good run, the car finally being classified 21st overall.
The Club Marcos International rally was held at Donnington at the BRDC GT round, but unusually this didn't guarantee a Marcos win. The TVR Cerbera took overall and GT2 victory, with Astley and Purvis being the best placed Marcos in 6th overall and 3rd in GT2. Sadly the previously successful GT3 LM500, hit problems right at the start of the race and failed to record even a single lap.
Suzuka, Donnington and Mugello did not bring much joy for the Marcos Racing International team in the FIA GT series. Despite qualifying in the top 4 GT2 cars in each of the races, retirement or long delays from radiator, accident damage and throttle cable failure meant the cars undoubted competitiveness was not reflected in the results.
At Donnington, in particular, the team suffered at the hands of number 2 driver, Becker. Generally, he's seemed a safe pair of hands, but he was involved in accidents with both Stefan Ortelli (in the Eichmann GT2 Porsche) and Bob Wollek's GT1 Porsche and eventually the car was retired as a result of damage inflicted in these accidents. As if to compound the problem, Thomas Erdos was back in the team for a one off appearance. His times in the team's second car were as fast, if not faster, than Euser and it's a great shame that the team is forced to take second rate drivers. Maybe 1998 will see a properly funded campaign.
Jem Marsh reckons the LM600 is still a match for the Vipers or the GT2 Porsche 911s, but that the ABS on some other cars is a big advantage, which he hopes to have removed from them next season.
With the end of the BRDC British GT series, things are brighter for Marcos.
At Brands, a top 3 placing overall looked likely until a very aggressively driven Saleen Mustang pushed the LM600 of Astley/Purvis off the road and down to 4th. The Saleen drivers (ironically Warnock/Schirle who last year drove an LM600 to the GT2 series title) were penalised for dangerous driving (after incidents with other cars as well as the Marcos), but were not removed from the result.
The second LM600 finished only a place behind in 5th and the two cars were classified 3rd and 4th in GT2. In GT3, the Ward LM500 took second place behind the Konig Porsche 911.
The Croft round was delayed, due to Princess Diana's funeral, but when finally held the result was again good for Marcos with an LM600 again in 4th overall and, this time, 2nd in GT2. This time Simon Tate (season long leader of GT3) took 2nd in GT3 behind the Konig Porsche.
The final round at Silverstone was especially good as 5 Marcii were entered and all 5 finished. Best finisher was the Astley/Purvis LM600 in 6th with the other LM600 in 9th. Tate took second in GT3, again to the Konig Porsche, which was enough for Marcos to lift another British GT championship class title, the third year in succession.
The FIA GT series rounded off with two races in the United States. The first, at Sebring in Florida, saw Cor Euser's Marcos take a good 4th place in GT2 behind 2 Vipers and the Roock Porsche. The conditions at Sebring were similar to those at Silverstone in May, with torrential rain ruining the racing. However, both Marcos cars reached the finish and 4th place for Euser/Becker reaped some much needed points and allowed the team to close to within 2 points of Konrad Motorsport, who were 3rd in the overall GT2 championship.
Having watched the highlights of the race on ITV, I'm shocked and dismayed by the quality of marshalling in the US. Llehto's attempts to extinguish the fire on his own car whilst the 'corner workers' stood and watched and then the lethargy and unpreparedness of the official fire truck were nothing short of a disgrace and it's sad to say that most races international events I see from the US have some kind of major marshalling shortcoming.
The finale of the FIA GT series saw Mercedes take the title in GT1 (The Vipers having clinched GT2 at Sebring). However, Jem Marsh's comments on the Marcos being a match for the Vipers rang true as Cor Euser placed his Marcos on GT2 pole on the challenging Californian circuit.
Sadly, the car retired after just 13 laps and so wasn't able to improve on the team's 4th in class in the series long championship. The second Marcos, driving on this occasion by Coene and Wilson, did complete the race in 25th position overall.
At the non championship race in Zuhai, China, Euser took an excellent 4th overall. He had been in 3rd overall, leading GT2, until a late stop was required for brake pads. However, it was an excellent result for the team at the end of a trying season.
There are rumours that Euser's team and the factory have fallen out, but it seems that the LM600 is a match for the GT2 pacesetters, but only if top quality drivers and sufficient funds are available to maintain the level of preparation that 4 hours of almost flat out racing demands. Unfortunately, unlike 1996, 1997 didn't see the results which the speed of the car promised.