Marvel at this ludicrous prototype unveiled by an ex-F1 driver
Tarso Marques’ radical sports car will compete in Brazil’s own endurance championshipby Michael Fira, on
Rulebooks are really thick in modern motor racing. Everywhere you go, you’ve got dozens upon dozens of rules and regulations you’ll have to follow to the letter if you plan to race. Gone are the days of Group 7 sports car racing or the ’Formula Libre’ run-what-you-brung-style of events as the sport is in continuous pursuit of both safety and equity. But, in this arguably robotic world, a wild project appears once in a blue moon and the latest such project is Tarso Marques’ TMC M1, a Batmobile for when Batman decides to do some racing of his own.
The TMC Prototype looks like a Roboracer that can be driven by a human
It’s great news when a new manufacturer decides to get up and get involved in racing, especially if the news arrives during a global pandemic that’s bound to massively affect each and every branch of motorized sports, even Formula E. The new manufacturer is Tarso Marques Concept or TMC, a name that may ring a bell to you if you’ve watched F1 during the ’90s and the ’00s or if you are a fan of the Daytona Bike Week.
If you’re amongst those in the former group, you’re aware Brazilian Tarso Marques is a former F1 driver who took the start in 21 Grands Prix but never scored a championship point. As an Euro F3000 graduate, he struck a deal with Minardi in 1996 to take part in the Argentine and the Brazilian GP in the Italian outfit’s lackluster M195B car. Marques, who’d finished fifth driving for DAMS in F3000 in ’95, failed to reach the chequered flag in either of those two races but Minardi retained his services for 1997.
His second year as an F1 driver ended with a distinct lack of results and Marques had to be content with a season-best finish of 10th in the British GP. After coming home an anonymous 15th in the European GP at Jerez, in Spain, Marques ditched F1 for the American Champ Car Series but even after landing a drive with the legendary Penske tea, Tarso’s fortunes didn’t turn around. He finished ninth on home ground at Jacarepagua in Brazil but, by ’01, he’d grown sick of racing for the sub-par Dayle Coyne Racing team (where he ended up after being booted by ’The Captain’) and decided to give F1 another chance.
For better or for worse, Gian Carlo Minardi was again the only team owner in the paddock willing to give Marques a drive and this meant Marques could never dream of racing at the front. A pair of ninth-place finishes were the highlights of a lackluster year after which he decided to concentrate on racing in native Brazil although he did take up the offer of wheeling JMB’s Ferrari 575 GTC in the FIA GT Championship at the tail end of 2004 - he and Karl Wendlinger finished fourth at Oschersleben and fifth at Zhuhai, in China. A few years in Brazil’s famous Stock Car Championship capped an otherwise colorful career and, after putting his overalls in a closet, Marques turned to art and, later, to entrepreneurship to fill his days.
His most successful project is TMC, a company specializing in the construction of bespoke cars, bikes, boats, and even planes.
While the bikes are what really put TMC on the map, Marques hasn’t forgotten that his roots are deeply embedded in racing, and now, he wants to go full circle and race as a team owner with TMC.
The car Marques plans to race, once it’ll be safe to do so, in Brazil is the TMC M1, a radical-looking closed-cockpit prototype built to the rather liberal rules of Endurance Brasil’s P1 class. Endurance Brasil is the South American country’s top long-distance championship pitting all matter of GT and touring cars against purpose-built prototypes that are, generally speaking, cheaper and slower than the LMP3 machinery racing Stateside.
Endurance Brasil’s P1 class is nowadays dominated by the Metalmoro JLM AJR, a unique prototype powered by Honda’s K20 turbocharged engine, producing around 550 horsepower.
With a dry weight 1.807 pounds, some 176 pounds down on a current-gen P2 car, the JLM AJR features an LMP3-spec transmission and LMP2 brakes and its creator reckons it could beat a 2017-spec P2 car despite it costing under $220,000 or, in other words, less than an LMP3 Addess.
So, what does the TMC M1 bring to the table in a bid to topple the Metalmoro reign? Marques has yet to offer too many details on his new creation that’s been seen out testing in Brazil but we do know the engine making all that noise is a V-6 turbocharged mill.
With a more radical aero package, the TMC may indeed prove to be faster than the Metalmoro but, as it has often been the case in Endurance Brasil, the quicker prototypes are frail and routinely fall by the wayside allowing the otherwise heavy and lanky GT3 cars to take over and win. Let’s hope Marques’ mind-boggling creation won’t be rivaling Tarso’s old Minardis in the number of retirements it racks up over the duration of a season!
|Engine||Honda’s K20 turbocharged|