Utah: Marino Franchitti race report

Following the closest ever qualifying session in the history of the American Le Mans Series where the top 10 cars spanned 1.30 seconds, it set the scene for what promised to be a very hard fought race on the 3.046 mile course set in the...

Following the closest ever qualifying session in the history of the American Le Mans Series where the top 10 cars spanned 1.30 seconds, it set the scene for what promised to be a very hard fought race on the 3.046 mile course set in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at the Miller Motorsports Park just outside Salt Lake City in Utah. The #20 LMP 2 Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder was qualified by Butch Leitzinger and took up 7th place on the grid, just 0.633 seconds off the pole sitting LMP2 Penske Porsche RS Spyder of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard. The #16 sister Dyson car was down in 10th place, a further half second off pole.

Butch started the race, but after only 25 minutes the first full course yellow saw several cars dart into the pits promoting the #20 car up to 3rd place overall. However just 10 minutes later the situation was to change yet again when 2 of the Acura LMP2 cars became embroiled in an incident causing a lengthy caution under yellows. Several cars utilised this opportunity to pit including the #20 Dyson Porsche, only to rejoin the race 11th overall. Despite steadily regaining places Butch pushed a little too hard and went off course only to be spun by the chasing Lowes Acura driven by Adrian Fernandez.

Marino took up the chase in the #20 Dyson Porsche around the middle of the race and rapidly settled into a fast rhythm pushing hard. It didn't long before Marino was up into 4th place overall trying to close on the front running Penske Porsches and the LMP2 Acura of Gil de Ferran making it's debut in the ALMS at this event. Try as hard as he could and despite making inroads into the time gap, he was trying to chase down the fastest cars on the track, and despite matching their times and setting the fastest lap time in the Dyson team, Marino was only able to chip away a few seconds by the time the chequered flag fell.

"I have to say my overall reaction to the race is one of disappointment that we didn't get a podium because we had a car that was capable of getting us there this weekend" said Marino. "The Dyson Racing strategy was spot on, and Butch did a great job, but unfortunately got tagged by Fernandez. We made great progress all weekend, our times were competitive with the leaders, it's just a great shame we didn't get the result that we were clearly capable of achieving. The gap to the next round at Lime Rock gives us a great opportunity to do some testing and hopefully that will give us an advantage when we resume our battles with the Acuras and Penske Porsches in July".

The fifth round of the American Le Mans Series will be held at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on Saturday, 12th July, 2008.

-credit: www.marinofranchitti.com

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