Following successful testing sessions earlier in the week here on the 4.087kms track at Road Atlanta, Marino, his brother Dario, and team owner, Scott Tucker, were happy with their #95 car. However, unexpectedly on Wednesday evening the Level 5 Motorsports team decided to switch them into the #055 HPD ARX-03b sister race car, so a new set-up process began, but it didn’t take Marino long to find a good balance which manifest itself on Thursday night practice when Marino set the fastest LMP2 time in the #055 car. Qualifying was extremely close in the class with just over one-tenth separating the top three LMP2 cars, Marino finishing the session with a 1:12.236 to put him third in class and seventh overall in the 42 car field.
Dario handed the car back to his brother at the end of his session, and Marino was able to bring the car back to first in class and 2nd overall following an accident by Lucas Luhr in the Muscle Milk LMP1 car who had been hounding the ultimate LMP1 winner, Rebellion Racing. Marino completed just one stint before handing over to Scott Tucker for his mandatory 2hrs 45mins in the car, but under a yellow caution Scott Tucker was informed to join the wave by for which he was ultimately served a 2min 20sec penalty adjudged to be the length of a lap under yellow caution. When the track eventually went green again the penalty had put the #055 car a lap down to 5th overall and 4th in the closely fought LMP2 battle. Scott Tucker handed the car back to Marino on lap 337 for the remaining 57 laps to the chequered flag, and Marino could not have fought harder.
With a new set of tyres and a full fuel tank Marino was not about to let his grasp on a podium place get away from him. Now racing in complete darkness he chipped away at the more than half a minute lead the #46 Oreca Nissan of TDS Racing had over him. Such was his furious pace that just eight laps from the end of the race he set the fastest LMP2 race lap with a 1:13.646. Gradually the gap came down to under three seconds when, on the penultimate lap, having been pushed so hard, the TDS car had to dart to the pits for a splash and dash, but Marino’s pace in the preceding laps had been enough to ensure a third place podium for the
- 055 car.
“After a tough battle to end up on the podium with Dario and Scott was a great way to end our weekend. From the first lap of the race we had an issue on the rear of the car, which turned out to be a rear damper failure and got worse as the race went on, but we still had the pace to battle for the win and showed that with fastest lap. The two penalties the car got made the win impossible, but It was great that Scott, Luis and Christophe where able to get not only the race win, but the championship too. Massive congratulations to them and the whole Level 5 team.”
However that was not the end of the story, after the race the #37 Conquest Racing Morgan Nissan which had crossed the line 2nd in LMP2 was disqualified having exceeded the official driver time, thus promoting Marino, Dario and Scott Tucker to 2nd in LMP2 class and 3rd overall just behind their championship winning sister car.
Source: Marino Franchitti