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The sale of MARC Cars Australia to GJ Motorsport group headed by Gold Coast businessmen Geoff Taunton was announced by MARC cars creator and owner Ryan McLeod last week.  Velocity Magazine sat down with Tauton at Queensland Raceway in the lead up to the Bathurst 12 Hour.

McLeod also posted news of the sale on the MARC Cars Facebook page where he reminisced on the growth of MARC Cars since the first Ford Focus prototype saw the light of day in 2013.

First created for a South African market, MARC Cars have raced across the globe in events ranging from Creventic Endurance series to the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hours. In the six years that followed McLeod and his team, with a design partnership from Paul Ceprnich’s PACE Innovations, have created over 25 cars from drivers across the globe. From that first Ford Focus body MARC Cars have grown with the introduction of a Mazda 3 body and then the higher specification Marc II V8. So why would Ryan McLeod sell now?

McLeod said that the decision to sell was in the interest of meeting client needs and moving MARC Cars Australia forward.

“There’s a group of customers there that need to have their demands met or their requirements satisfied,” told Velocity Magazine. “So, people who can invest a bit more money into it and people who can take it to the next level are probably good for it, because it’s a cracker car. It’s a great concept and it’s got really good support in numerous different categories. So I think there’s no reason why it should change its charter, but it probably just needs a few more people around and helping fan the flames of it. The team that’s currently involved with Taunton, they’ll become MARC Cars Australia in time for the event at Bathurst.”

Velocity Motorsport Magazine spoke with Geoff Taunton to discuss the sale and future plans for MARC Cars Australia.

“Ryan has done a great job, he is a perfectionist and the cars are magnificent,” Geoff Taunton explained. “I can’t speak highly enough of the work he has done. The MARC II especially has proven its ability to run with the GT3 cars, both here and around the world. We are would like to develop the car a little further especially with some more engine work, so we don’t have to push the car quite so hard but be competitive. The cars have held their value well and are affordable in terms of a racing car.

The MARC Cars operation will move to my workshop on the Gold Coast and we are planning to make six new cars in 2020 and I would like to increase that to 10 cars in 2021. There are 15 MARC Cars out there already in Australia, so if I can get another 6 cars built this year then we should be able to field at least 18 to 20 cars for the series in 2021. We would like to utilise knowledge and skills from previous MARC Cars team members as this experience is invaluable to us. Certainly the standards achieved by Ryan and his team will not drop and we wish to continue to produce a high quality product that the MARC Car has earned its reputation to be.

“We have a great group of people working with us – Team Manager Alyson Fradgley has been involved with MARC Cars since the beginning and is very passionate about the team and cars, so she will be a valuable asset to take the company to another level. Making it a little bit cheaper and more affordable, that’s what we are aiming at. We will still push forward with the overseas market and the change in the Australian dollar makes it so much more affordable for the overseas buyers.”

MARC Cars have produced silhouettes of the Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and most recently the “Mustang” inspired body. Geoff Taunton was adamant when asked about the possibility of new body shapes.

“No, they are purpose built to take theMustang inspired shape. That body is so superbly made but is extremely expensive being carbon. It is state of the art in its design and manufacture. You would be looking at close to a million dollars to make a plug for another body shape. It won’t happen in the immediate future as the budget just isn’t there. To be quite honest the Mustang body is a favourite and I haven’t had anyone ask for a different body design.

The MARC I car is a different proposition and needs a bit of a birthday. We plan to create a new body that is part carbon fibre and fibreglass, which will be very strong and lighter. We estimate that the new body will be 20-30kg lighter than the present guise. While the MARC II is a full carbon fibre body, it is not an economical route for the MARC I cars. They will have nose clips and all separate body components. So, if you hit a corner, you only have to buy that corner. We are also going to head in the direction of a European theme with one of the new bodies. These are just some small possibilities we are beginning to think about moving forward.

Then there is the MARC III – All I can tell you is that it is the opposition brand in terms of the body shell.

To have that GT style downforce is good and we will do a lot of racing in conjunction with the both the Australian GT and GT1 Australia series in 2020, because both series have their respective merits and produce some great opportunities for the MARC cars. GT1 is very affordable and the AGT is very professional in its package. That’s the advantage of the MARC cars, I can sell them on the basis that the driver can choose to race in a range of events which best suit his needs and budget.

We would also like to see the MARC Cars eligible for Sports Sedan racing though there has been a sticking point with the manner in which the body flares. They had been designed as a consumable part, though that will change with the new body and hopefully address these issues.

We would like to offer a suite of car options that are best suited to that particular customers budget requirements. Whether it be a MARC I or MARC II and eventually a MARC III – it broadens the market place in what someone can afford for more exhilarating racing, dependent on the budget that you have.

Geoff Taunton praised the growth and success of TCM and TA2 as role models for the future direction of MARC Cars in Australia.

“I think that the proof of the pudding is in the TCM cars,” Taunton exclaimed. “Everyone loves watching them, they just seem to have that element of difference in the cars that everyone likes to watch. Peter Robinson from the TA2’s has also done a fantastic job with grid numbers now around 30+ cars.

By January 2021 our goal is to have our own series for MARC Cars I and II. At this stage I think that the AMRS will probably be our best option, I do like them. We are also going to try and fine tune the cars to make them a little bit cheaper and develop a great in-house finance package for prospective buyers to support the growth of the category. I guarantee that people will enjoy driving any version of these three cars. In the big picture that is what we are aiming at.”

Taunton also sees MARC Cars as an excellent, cost effective, breeding ground for the next generation of Australia’s elite drivers and has high praise for 16 year old Bayley Hall.

“Over the next twelve months we also hope to develop our young drivers, particularly Bayley Hall, who I see as a future star in Australian motorsport,” Taunton said. “Bayley in particular will stay under our wing with further support from Warren Luff. To have ‘Luffy’ with us in the car at Bathurst will be superb, I can’t wait. He is an ideal asset for us, outside the car he is such a gentleman and gets on so well with all the members in our team. I am very optimistic that we can achieve a great result at the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race. I believe that the car is good for a 2.01 lap time, certainly a 2.02. Top speed is the same of around 300kmh. You hit the same aerodynamic brick wall as a Supercar and they just won’t go any faster. There is just so much downforce that is pushing the car into the ground.

Ryan McLeod once quipped that if he got a dollar for every time he was told that these should be the new supercars, a viewed shared by Geoff Taunton.

“Between Ryan McLeod and PACE (the constructors of the MARC chassis), they created a magnificent product, Geoff Taunton said. “There are a few little things that could be improved, but at $300K we are really talking about affordable racing. If a Lowndes, van Gisbergen or McLaughlin drove the car I have now, I have no doubt that they could at least match a Supercar at almost a quarter of the price.”

The Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour starts next tomorrow with the main game GT3 cars scheduled to hit the track at 8.40 am with the 12Hour Race starting at 5.45am on Sunday morning.  Velocity Magazine’s team hit the ground running from next Wednesday, keep an eye on our website and Facebook pages for all the updates, stories and Photographs.


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