BGT Media Day 14 – Morgan & Marcos
The Skater Marcos LM500 has its own feature on dailysportscar, so here we look at the Team Aero Morgan and the Team Tiger Mantis – two traditional British Sports cars, both lining up for another crack at the latest version of the British GT Cup Class.

Morgan owner Keith Ahlers and partner Oliver Bryant are familiar BGT runners, as are Jon Finnemore and Chris Beighton in the Mantis – race winners all.

“We’ll be the only team that’s entered every round since the Cup Class started in 2003,” said a proud Keith Ahlers, at Wednesday’s media and test day – referring to the fact that one significant, long-standing rival entrant isn’t expected at Oulton Park next month.

“Our main work has been on the suspension and dampers – damping on the Morgan is our weakest area, and the 911s have been better than us over the bumps and the kerbs,” continued Ahlers on Wednesday morning. “We’re using Motons this year.

“We’ve tested at Donington twice, but the weather was very poor. However, we set a target time on last year’s tyres, then put on the Avons.”

It would be fair to say that initially the car owner was disappointed with the rear tyres in particular, “but Avon has responded very quickly, and they’ve come up with a different tyre for our car today.”

Thursday was set aside for another tyre test at Donington Park, and thus far, the Morgan owner is delighted to report that “we’ve gone quicker every time we’ve tried the Avons.”

A 1:27 on Wednesday afternoon was right in the ballpark. “Considerable progress,” summed up Keith Ahlers by the end of the afternoon. “We’ve tried three different constructions (of tyre) and we’re matching last year’s times.”

Partner Oliver Bryant is undertaking a very busy season – British GTs with the Morgan, FIA GT3s with Tech 9 – and is studying at university too. Rumour has it that he actually stayed in and caught up with his studies one evening recently…

“My plan is to do an LMS race too this year, and I’d like to run at Le Mans, also in a prototype, but Spa is the only LMS race I can do, which might work out quite well.”

The young man has some prototype experience, having tested a Rollcentre Dallara last September – and loved every minute of it.

The Team Aero outfit was a step or two ahead of Team Tiger, Chris Beighton and Jon Finnemore not having tested the orange Marcos so far this year… until Wednesday afternoon.

“The engine has had a lot of attention over the winter, and if anything we’ve gone for a bit less power for 2006, and we should gain with reliability – not that the engine has been unreliable, it hasn’t,” said Jon Finnemore.

He and his partner set some baseline times on Dunlops at the start of Wednesday afternoon’s session, then switched to the 2006 Avon rubber. They were very fast initially, and ended up fastest among the GTC runners…

On Avons, “it was better than I thought it was going to be,” summed up Finnemore, late in the day. “The weather is too cold, but the front tyres are very good. If we can sort the back tyres out…”

Chris Beighton: “It doesn’t feel like it used to – it’s a bit snappy. With the power on through fast corners it feels fine, very solid. The tyres look like brand new – I only came in because I was thirsty!”

These two have threatened that this will be their last season of GT racing – perhaps with some revised rear rubber, their rivals will be hoping that it is?


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