Laguna Seca: Marino Franchitti race report

The sun eventually broke through the morning mists that swirl around the hills in Monterey this time of year and huge crowds were eventually able to enjoy a four-hour race that uncharacteristically got off to a very slow start. Marino's...

The sun eventually broke through the morning mists that swirl around the hills in Monterey this time of year and huge crowds were eventually able to enjoy a four-hour race that uncharacteristically got off to a very slow start.

Marino's co-driver, Butch Leitzinger had qualified the #20 Dyson Racing LMP2 Porsche Spyder in 11th place overall on the 34 car grid in a qualifying session that was dominated by the lighter and more nimble LMP2 category cars and in particular the Acura LMP2 prototypes that Porsche had been competing so closely with all season.

Butch took the green flag at 2.45pm for the start of the race around this 2.238mile, 11 tur course, famous for its "corkscrew" at turn 8. However the race was to be punctuated by a large number of yellow caution periods 12 in total - as drivers fell victim to this fast, race track. Butch drove a solid stint handing over to Marino after nearly one-and-a-half ho Marino took up the chase on lap 53 from eleventh position, his first two "victims" were Sco Sharp in the Highcroft Acura and then the #16 Dyson sister car with Chris Dyson at the whee th Marino carved his way through the field and by lap 63 had moved up to 5 overall. Another 20 laps later he had moved up to 4th and was holding position as the LMP2 cars were still dominating the race. However, despite the sun, a cold wind had been present throughout most of the day, but as the evening drew in, the chill factor increased, and drivers were consistently complaining of lack of grip due to loss of heat in the tyres as the various ye caution periods ran their course and the LMP1 Audi R10 TDI's gradually moved to the head of the field. Marino too was having difficulty retaining heat in his tyres on a track that was covered in the fine sand that blows down off the hills in the windy conditions "there were couple of hairy moments on the restarts, but I managed to grab the car as it tried to get a from me - it wasn't easy" he said. However Marino still managed to set the fastest lap in t team with a 1:12.999 just one-thousandth of a second ahead of Guy Smith in the #16 car.

When the chequered flag fell at 6.45pm Marino had managed to hold onto eighth place and stay on the lead lap. In doing so he retained the team's 5th place in the 2008 ALMS LMP2 driver standings. After the race Marino commented, "It was a great first stint, but our set didn't seem to suit the lower temperatures we experienced at the end of the race and it was hard to maintain our performance all the way to the finish. I certainly learned a lot today I can take away to improve my own performance in these kind of conditions so it was a valuable learning experience. With that in mind, I'm really happy that we managed to stay o the lead lap and retain our place as top privateer in the LMP2 championship.

It's been great to be part of the Dyson racing team this year and I want to thank Rob and C for the fantastic opportunity they've given me; Butch, Guy and Chris for being great team mates; and the entire crew for working so hard all year. Of course, we could not have done without the support of Porsche Motorsport and I want to thank them too and congratulate the on their sweep of the LMP2 championships, there is a lot of pride on our part in making the manufacturer's title a reality. I just can't wait for next season to start!"

-credit: mf

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Guy Smith , Butch Leitzinger , Marino Franchitti , Chris Dyson
Teams Dyson Racing