Adria: Marino Franchitti race report

Marino Franchitti wins FIA GT in Adria It was an absolute whirlwind start to Marino's weekend that carried on right through until the chequered flag this afternoon .... On Friday Marino had driven to Le Mans with his brother, Dario, to watch ...

Marino Franchitti wins FIA GT in Adria

It was an absolute whirlwind start to Marino's weekend that carried on right through until the chequered flag this afternoon .... On Friday Marino had driven to Le Mans with his brother, Dario, to watch their cousin fighting for the title in the F3 Euro Series. Then early on Saturday morning Marino received a phone call from Chris Nairchos asking him if he could take his seat at the 9th round of the FIA GT Championship in Adria this weekend at the wheel of the No. 63 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 430. Within minutes Marino was packing his bag and heading to Paris to jump on a plane to Venice for the 2-day race meeting. "I love it when things happen like that" said Marino, "there's no time to think, just react."

The Adria track, built in 2002 with its completely enclosed paddock, is just 2.702 kms long, the shortest on the FIA GT circuit. With 2 practice sessions and qualifying all happening yesterday, the drivers had little time to prepare. Marino Franchitti was partnering Tim Mullen with whom he had driven in Paul Ricard and taken 2nd place in the No. 63 car. In the first practice session, Tim and Marino were 2nd, just 2/100ths of a second behind their sister car. Marino's only comment after the session was that "The car was good, but I was only out on full tanks so I wasn't able to maximise the car's potential".

The second session was similar, but Marino felt they had a good race car. Tim Mullen qualified, but having dropped a wheel on the grass and been punted by one of the GT1 Maserati's the best he could manage was 5th in GT2 with a 1:15.257; pole having been set by Andrew Kirkaldy in the sister Scuderia Ecosse car with a 1:14.622.

Race morning was sunny and dry and Tim began the race down in 5th, but it was not long before he had moved through the field and was up to 3rd, the sister car having crashed into the tyres just 30 laps into the race and been forced to retire with a broken radiator. Later a yellow flag incident saw just the Ferrari 430 factory car of Salo/Aguas dive into the pits along with Tim in the No. 63 Ferrari to refuel, so knowing that they were now both on the same strategy "we knew who we were really racing and the team had performed a brilliant strategy", said Marino.

Tim came out of the pits 2nd place in GT2, but knowing the car in front of them would have to stop for a "splash and dash" at the end he drove solidly for 1hr 55mins to the driver change. When Marino exited his pit, still 2nd in class, he had a 28 second lead over Salo in 3rd place, but was keeping pace with the lead car which still had to pit. "I just concentrated on keeping the gap to Salo; he was driving like a man possessed" said Marino, "but it was tough because every left hand corner my lap belt kept loosening off and I was having to tighten it on the straight, not ideal on a short track! The Adria course is so short it's all about driving rhythm, and you really have to concentrate".

At the chequered flag, despite seat belt problems, Marino still had over a 16 second gap to Salo "I just punched the air with excitement, and on my slowdown lap Tim came shouting over the radio at me, it was brilliant," said Marino. "Tim drove a great stint, and the team's strategy was spot on. I hope I've repaid Chris for his confidence in me. I'm delighted we managed the win; having had a 3rd with the team at Spa 24hrs, and then 2nd in Paul Ricard with Tim, we just had to get on the top step. I've waited a long time for this, and now we're off to enjoy it".

-credit: kwa

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Marino Franchitti , Tim Mullen , Andrew Kirkaldy