Daytona Beach, Fla. – For the third consecutive year, Michael Marsal has been tabbed to pull double-duty in this weekend’s 2013 GRAND-AM season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.
While he has piloted a BMW in his previous three Continental Tire starts at the 3.56-mile speedway road course, this weekend marks yet another new challenge and new opportunity for the 24-year-old New York resident as he is set to drive the full 2013 season in the No. 71 Aston Martin Vantage with Tonis Kasemets.
The pair has completed several successful tests in the Aston Martin, getting familiar with the new machine on tracks as diverse as Road Atlanta, the remarkable Circuit of the Americas, and Daytona International Speedway earlier this month during GRAND-AM’s three-day ‘Roar Before the 24’.
Marsal proved a quick learner as he quickly became acclimated to the different driving style required in the new car and posted continually improving lap times through the weekend.
“I’ve found that the main difference between the BMW and the Aston Martin is that you can’t make it up with power in the Aston, so if you don’t come off the corner right, you pay the price in the straight line.
Here at Daytona that can be huge,” offered Marsal. “I’m super excited to get this season started. This is the fourth year I’ll be in the Continental race here and I’m confident heading into the weekend.
I think I have a great car. Multimatic is a great team and I’ve got an awesome co-driver, so hopefully the deck is stacked in our favor on that one.”
Marsal scored his best CTSCC finish of sixth at Daytona last year in the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW and would like nothing more than to improve on that effort by opening the 2013 season in a big way with a podium result.
The 2.5-hour CTSCC race will be just the start of a busy weekend of racing as the Rolex 24 event will see Marsal make his third start in the historic race.
He made his Rolex Series debut in the 2011 Rolex 24 driving the No. 30 Racer’s Edge Mazda RX-8 and then drove a Turner Motorsport BMW in last year’s event.
Looking to build on that experience, Marsal once again joins a stellar driver line-up in the Turner BMW which includes Rolex Series veteran Bill Auberlen, BMW Motorsport driver Maxime Martin, triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx and Colorado resident Gunter Schaldach in the No. 93 BMW M3 GT.
“This is my third time around in GT for the Rolex 24. The first year was a great experience, but last year was a really tough race,” said Marsal. “We had a mechanical issue, and the car didn’t quite have the speed.
This year I think we have a great package to be competitive. We’re definitely not the fastest car in the field, but I think we have a very competitive package. Will’s (Turner) cars can go the distance.”
Though Marsal brings with him the experience of two previous starts in GRAND-AM’s biggest event, he’ll still be packing the same enthusiasm of his very first appearance in the prestigious race.
“Every racecar driver has that butterfly feeling in their stomach at some point at some track,” said Marsal. “There is just something that really hits home and that you’re really privileged and lucky to be able to do this kind of stuff.
There is something about when the sun goes down at Daytona and they flip on the turn-in arrows at Turn 1 and the bus stop that just gets me excited to go drive a car.
I remember always watching it on TV that way and the first time I ever showed up here I didn’t drive in the 24, I drove in the Continental race.
I remember the first night practice and standing on the pit lane and watching the sun go down after dinner and those lights coming on and it was just one of those pinnacle moments for me and I told myself that this is one of the races that I have to win one day.”