Road Atlanta: Marino Franchitti race report

In front of a record 113,000 crowd, the 11th running of the ALMS Petit Le Mans 1,000 mile race had attracted a grid of no less than 38 cars, 20 in the prototype category, 18 in the GT class. In the ...

In front of a record 113,000 crowd, the 11th running of the ALMS Petit Le Mans 1,000 mile race had attracted a grid of no less than 38 cars, 20 in the prototype category, 18 in the GT class.

In the #20 Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder Marino had his regular co-driver and team-mate, Butch Leitzinger, and Andy Lally, who was rejoining the team after their last successful run together at the ALMS first race of the season, the Sebring 12 hours, where the same driver line-up had finished 2nd in class.

Friday's qualifying sessions were run at a fast and furious pace, all four pole sitters in each of the four categories beating the previous year's lap records. Despite a small technical problem, Marino had qualified the #20 car around the 2.54 mile Road Atlanta course to 14th overall and 9th in class with a lap time of 1:08.446 which in itself was just over four-tenths of a second quicker than the pole sitting time of the LMP1 Audi R10 TDI at last year's event.

As the green flag fell here at 11.15am yesterday morning, it was Butch Leitzinger who had settled behind the wheel of the #20 car for the first double stint of the race. It was almost two hours later, around 1pm, when Butch handed the car over to Marino 7th in class, but also one lap down on the leaders. Marino slid into the cockpit for what turned into almost a two-and-a-half hour session, determined to get the car back onto the lead lap. This he did gradually passing other LMP2 competitors on the way, consequently when he handed the car over to Andy Lally around 3.30pm Marino had not only moved back onto the lead lap, but was also 4th in LMP2 class.

The pit stops cycled through with Andy handing the #20 car over to Butch and finally, as darkness began to fall, Marino was again back behind the wheel this time to take the car to the finish of the race. And finish in style he did setting the two car team's fastest lap of the race a 1:09.613 in the pitch darkness. When Marino took the chequered flag he had moved to 7th overall and 4th in class, not only the first "privateer" to cross the finishing line, but also to assist his team in finishing 4th in the prototype class for the inaugural "Green Challenge Award", and again the first "privateer" placed car in the top 5 finishers and sandwiched in between the #1 and #2 car respectively, the two Audi R10 TDI's.

Marino commented after the race, "It was a good result for Dyson racing and we had a really clean run from start to finish, with no unscheduled stops and no contact with other cars. We lacked some luck with the yellows which lost us a couple of laps, but we can be proud that we got the most from the Porsche RS Spyder and finished as the top privateer car. With only one round to go, it would be nice to finish the year as we began, with a podium, and we'll give it our all to make that happen".

The eleventh and final round of the American Le Mans Series will be held at Laguna Seca, thCalifornia, on Saturday, 18 October, 2008.

-credit: www.marinofranchitti.com

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Andy Lally , Marino Franchitti
Teams Dyson Racing