Daytona Beach, Fla. – You only get one shot at a first impression, and Michael Marsal made the most of his first time racing for Aston Martin as the young college graduate led his first laps at Daytona International Speedway on Friday.
Marsal and his Multimatic Motorsports co-driver Tonis Kasemets opened the 2013 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge championship at Daytona International Speedway on Friday with an 11th place result in the 2.5-hour BMW Performance 200 on Friday.
Having qualified the Aston Martin from 14th during an abbreviated qualifying session, Marsal made quick work of moving forward to run among the top-10 in just seven laps.
Following the first of three full-course caution periods, Marsal found himself running seventh for the first restart. Despite racing the Aston Martin for the first time around the Daytona circuit, Marsal showed strength behind the wheel as he moved into the second position within laps and took over the lead on Lap 19.
He would battle for the lead position for several circuits around the 3.56-mile speedway road course before pitting with about one hour and 20 minutes remaining in the race to hand the car over to Kasemets who would take it to the finish.
“It was a great car and fun to be leading at Daytona,” offered Marsal. “The balance of the car was a little bit off with a full fuel tank, so it was slow in the beginning, there was a lot of understeer, but as we had that long caution and burned off all that fuel, the car gripped right up and was fantastic after that.
I have to thank all of the Multimatic guys for giving me such a great car today. Even at the very end, we were running out of gas, the car wasn’t falling off at all. It was a great race and fun to be back.”
Kasemets returned to the track 20th in the order but wasted no time working his way through the field to run as high as seventh before the team’s final pit stop.
Unfortunately, the result was compromised after GRAND-AM issued a drive-through penalty for a pit lane speed infraction which saw the No. 71 fall back down the order prior to the final restart.
With just seven laps to run to the checkered flag, Kasemets improved from 17th in the order to 11th at the finish.
Next up for Marsal is Round 2 of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge championship March 1-2 at Circuit of the Americas located just outside of Austin, Texas. Having tested at the Formula 1 circuit over the off-season, Marsal has high hopes of a good result.
“I’m really excited to go racing there [COTA],” said Marsal. “I think it’s going to be an awesome car for that track, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The BMW Performance 200 will be televised February 2, 2013 at 4:00 PM (ET) on SPEED.