With just a two-day programme to fit in two practice sessions, a qualifying session, warm-up and a 2-hour 45 minutes race, there was a lot to do in a very short space of time, but the Level 5 Motorsports team were well on top of their game. In weather conditions which saw ambient temperatures in the high 90°F and track temperatures way up in the high 120°F it was going to be a challenge for man, machine and race tyres. However the two practice sessions went well and when it came for Marino to qualify the #552 LMP2 HPD ARX-03b car his times were dropping consistently lap by lap. After just five laps when time was called he was a mere two-tenths off pole which was taken by the #551 sister car driven by Level 5 team mate Ryan Briscoe. The two Level 5 LMP2 cars had locked out the second row of the grid behind the two LMP1 cars of MuscleMilk and Dyson Racing, but more importantly ahead of their closest rivals the two Extreme Speed Motorsports LMP2 cars.

#552 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b: Scott Tucker, Marino Franchitti
#552 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b: Scott Tucker, Marino Franchitti

Photo by: Jackie Buys

It was Marino who was at the wheel of the # 552 car for the start of the race here at 3.05pm this afternoon, whilst team owner and co-driver, Scott Tucker was in the #551 car. Marino sat right on the exhaust pipes of Scott for 15 laps, but on lap 16 took over the lead in LMP2 and third place overall in the race, the position he held right up until lap 87 when he handed the car over to Scott Tucker who had just completed his stint in the #551 car. The race was under yellows at the time, but when Scott re-entered the race in the #552 car he was down in 3rd place in LMP2 and sixth overall in the race. Ryan Briscoe who had taken over from Scott Tucker in the #551 car found himself second in LMP2 behind Guy Cosmo in the ESP car and had a fight on his hands to claw back the lead in LMP2 which he finally managed to do in the very closing stages of the race.

Meanwhile back in the #552 car which Scott Tucker had taken over from Marino about half way through the race, and which he had driven admirably holding on to third place in LMP2, however, by lap 156 in the tortuous heat Scott had to pit and hand the car back to Marino to finish out the race.

On lap 157 Marino was back out on track with almost a 50 second gap to the next nearest competitor; one of the Oreca LMPC cars, but he doggedly fought back until another yellow flag on lap 164 bunched up the field. It was only on lap 170 that the restart was called with just 4 minutes of the race remaining, but it gave Marino the chance to pick up another place in the race and hold on to a third place finish in LMP2 just 1.4 seconds behind the sixth placed car in the race. All in all it had been a very hot, but a very satisfying day’s work as Marino explained.

“It was huge fun to be back racing at the Lime Rock track, the Level 5 team did a great job all weekend and I feel we got all we could out of the race. The first stint I had some tyre issues, but we managed to hang on to the podium finish. Scott did a fantastic job and in the crazy heat we had he was an ironman once again. Congrats to him and Ryan on the win and I can't wait to head to one of my favorite tracks next at Mosport.”

Mosport, Canada, the fifth round in the 2013 ALMS Series is in just two weeks time, on Sunday, 21st July

Marino Franchitti Racing