The Morgan Works Race Team, popular underdogs of the international motor racing scene, stunned fans and cynics alike last Saturday with a storming performance in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series at Sebring, Florida.
Watched by millions of TV viewers, the Morgan Aero 8 GT car ran flawlessly throughout the 12 hours, racing ahead of both TVR entries and several Porsches to take the chequered flag in 10th position in a GT class of 22 and 20th overall out of 44 cars.
The car pitted only for fuel, tyres and drive changes right through the day and into the night session.
Team Manger David Dowse was jubilant:
“The car was superb; apart from scheduled stops all we had to deal with was a headlamp bulb and some minor impact damage to a rear wing. It’s great to be able reward our loyal supporters in Europe and here in America with such a brilliant result. I can’t praise the drivers - Adam Sharpe, Neil Cunningham and Keith Ahlers – the crew and our tyre partners Yokohama enough; they have worked wonders.
“I really hope that we may now attract the major sponsorship we need. Because the car is so different, it gets huge media and audience attention, and that has to be good for sponsors. We’ve taken on and beaten some very well-funded teams here – no mean achievement for a race team whose total budget is no more than the catering spend for some competitors. The car has real potential, and with an investment in some development, we know we can get within striking distance of the front-running Porsches.”
The Aero 8’s high profile performance in Florida should also help boost sales of Morgan’s road-going cars, which were launched on sale in America in January.
The Morgan Works Team travelled back to the UK on Monday, tired but in high spirits. They will now wait with bated breath for the expected announcement this week of the successful entries for the 2004 Le Mans 24 Hours race in France.
“We’ve done everything we can. All that’s left now is to cross our fingers and wait. But whatever happens we’ve proved that we can mix it with the top teams in the world – and that feels pretty good!” David Dowse concludes.Published 24 March 2004