New upgrades to their MARC II V8 have Collins Motorsport buzzing about this year’s South Island Endurance Series.
Last year, the team purchased the Mustang-inspired chassis, and the car arrived on New Zealand shores in December.
Collins Motorsport debuted the car at the New Zealand Grand Prix in February. It finished third in the NZV8 feature race.
However, the car was bought primarily for endurance racing.
The MARC hasn’t been on a race track since May. But despite the long pause between hit-outs, the team have continued fine-tuning the car.
“The car has been a learning curve,” team owner Paul Collins told Velocity News. “There has been ongoing development to meet our expectations.
“We’ve done a bit to it; played around with the suspension geometry, spring rates, shock absorbers, and I think we are getting close to where we want it to be.
“We have also done a bit of engine tuning to the 5.2-litre Coyote motor, and that has seen a performance increase we are happy about.
“Our motor is now ten per cent more fuel efficient, so hopefully we can do just the one stop each race.”
One upgrade Collins is especially excited to see play out is a new telemetry system in the car.
Live, up-to-date data from the car is now reported back to the team in the pitlane, who can then feed any helpful information onto their drivers.
“The flash new telemetry system we have is probably our biggest improvement,” Collins said.
“We can now give drivers lap-by-lap data and monitor everything from tyre temperature to fuel burn.
“I reckon with a good engineer we could find at least a second per lap to what we were doing before.”
Before they acquired the MARC, Collins Motorsport caught the country’s attention with its Ford Mustang GT-X, powered by a Roush Yates NASCAR engine.
But the team wanted to have a bigger focus on endurance racing.
Collins said he and the team initially considered buying a Porsche GT3 or a similar GT3 race car.
Yet, it was the unique MARC that appealed to the team.
Not only was there no other MARC in New Zealand, but it was less complex than a GT3 car, and it all-around suited the team a lot better.
The MARC is not as fast as the unrestricted GT3 cars it will be sharing the track with this year. But Collins understands that and says the team’s focus is on their class.
“We don’t have the power to win. The Marc is not a GT3 car.
“Our goal is to win our class.
“We are now at a point where we can be front runners in our class.
“But I think some people will be surprised to see where the car is now from where it was last season.”
A three-driver line-up will share the MARC’s reins this year.
Once again, the team will benefit from Paul Radisich’s experience and raw speed as one of their lead drivers.
“I expect Paul to be up the front. That old boy can still pedal,” Collins said.
Nick Ross and Sam Collins are the other two drivers confirmed for this year’s endurance season.
The team hopes to get some late pre-season testing in before loading the car onto the trailer and leaving it in the South Island.
Highlands Motorsport Park opens the South Island Endurance season on October 2.