Collins Motorsport are “over the moon” with the how their new Mustang-bodied MARC II V8 performed on its debut outing at the New Zealand Grand Prix.
Having just arrived in the country from Australia, the car had only turned a mere 15 laps at Taupo before joining the NZV8 grid at Hampton Downs.
The weekend would give the team its first indication on how the MARC handles in race trim.
To finish third in the forty-minute feature race, Collins Motorsport was left with nothing but smiles at the end of a testing weekend.
“As a team, we are over the moon with how the car performed that weekend,” team owner Paul Collins told Velocity News.
“It is a lot different from the old Mustang, and that meant getting on top of new things. So, we are still coming to terms with the likes of adjustable ABS and Traction Control.
“But, overall, we couldn’t be happier with how the car went.”
The MARC is an entirely different beast to the team’s old car – a NASCAR-powered Mustang GT-X.
Unlike the Mustang, which produced close to 900hp, the MARC is significantly down on straight-line performance. However, the MARC betters the Mustang’s speed through the downforce generated by its slick body shape and rear wing.
The MARC also weighs over 400kg less than the Mustang courtesy of its full carbon fibre frame.
Collins said that these differences were initially tough for the team’s driver Sam Collins to get his head around. But he believes his speed will continuously get stronger each time he gets behind the wheel.
“There is a difference in driving style between the two cars.
“The MARC is some 300 horsepower down on the Mustang. That means you don’t have the same power which can get you out of trouble.
“What I mean by that is that before, if the driver made a mistake in the Mustang, he could use the enormous power on the straights to make up time. Whereas with the MARC, you need a smoother driving style.
“Sam is getting use to that and I am sure he will get better and get a grip with the difference in aero, braking and handling from one car to the next.”
Unexpectedly, the team were also tasked with a big repair job between Saturday and Sunday after a crash in the final sprint race.
“Of course that didn’t help,” Collins said.
“[The MARC] did a five-minute race and then got smashed up in the next, which left us with a reasonable repair job.
“But the boys did an amazing job to repair the car to get it race-ready. They had roughly 20 hours between races to fix the damage, and most of those were preparing the car to repair it.
“We had never dissembled it before, so that took some time as we learnt what to do.”
After getting final repairs to the car done just after 4 am, Sam would reward the team’s efforts with a maiden podium in the weekend’s feature race.
“It did feel good to come back from having a wrecked car to finish third in the main race the next day.
“We even had second in our sights if we had pitted when it started raining, and we were in the window to do that. But we stayed out, and that cost us around three-seconds per lap, so the three extra laps we did cost us roughly nine seconds on the leaders.
“But I am just so happy with how the car went and I hope that only means well for the future.”
The MARC will be out in action this weekend in the next round of the NZV8 championship at Manfeild.
Images: Tayler Burke/NZV8