MARC Cars Australia will be ready for the 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, despite embarking on a massive eight-car attack on Australia’s International Endurance race.
As well as making the global debut of their brand-new MARC II endurance racer – of which three are entered – the team has entered four of their first-generation MARC 1 racers and will also run a BMW M4 GT4 under their MARC GT banner.
The team successfully completed the first shakedown of their newest product at Queensland Raceway across two days this week.
Team boss Ryan McLeod says their 2018 Bathurst campaign has been ‘an enormous exercise’.
“We’re bringing 70 people, our own catering, 8 cars, 24 drivers, 16 engineers, nearly 200 tyres, 4 trucks and several shipping containers. It’s a big day out at the car races,” he said.
“At the moment I have two crews basically working around the clock at our base in Norwell to get the second and third MARC II cars finished. We’ll shake them down later this week and then head down.
“It’s been an enormous effort and really no different to when we did the first cars, though this time we were working from an established base.
“We’ve taken a lot out of the MARC I cars and improved, upgraded and manipulated them to suit the new one. If we didn’t have that as a grounding then you couldn’t embark on a project like this.
“But we always had planned for them to debut at this race in particular and we’ll achieve that.”
Though yet to confirm the driving squad for their #33 car, the remainder of the MARC cars squad features an intriguing mix of youth and experience.
Among them are double 12-hour winner Rod Salmon, rising Supercars star Will Brown and former BTCC ace, James Kaye though the list doesn’t stop there.
McLeod said the new cars will forge a pathway within their own team for drivers looking to progress.
“They will be able to start in MARC 1 and progress to the MARC II car,” he said.
“The new cars include everything we wanted to develop and enhance on the existing car and we’ve been testing components on them for a while.
“The car was fast straight out of he box even though we’ve just done two days of testing in the hottest conditions I think I’ve ever experienced at Queensland Raceway” he added.
“We tested until 9:30pm Wednesday night and until 1:30pm today (Thursday) and it went really well. Steve Owen came and helped, as did Morgan Haber. All of our drivers came and drove the car too.
“We put it through its paces and tested a lot of the systems and it all went well.”
The 2018 race will also see the return of the ‘MARC GT’ brand to Mount Panorama, having surprised at the event last year by qualifying on the front row of the grid and leading the early stages of the race in a privately-run BMW M6 GT3.
MARC GT will this year run a BMW M4 GT4 for the US-based RHC Lawrence/Strom team, which includes drivers Darren Eric Jorgensen, Cameron Lawrence, Brett Strom and Kuno Wittmer.
“That came about through BMW, basically – the customers from the American team were looking for someone to partner with and BMW put them in touch with us.
“They said ‘these guys did a good job last year’ so they shipped the car to us. Darren is a dab hand in SCCA racing and is bringing a couple of good drivers with him, so we think they will give GT4 a very good shake.
“We have all of the infrastructure for the GT program there, so it was easy to add that to the program; we’re looking forward to running that car.”
Photos by Matthew Paul.