Marino Franchitti Le Mans diary: take one

Marino Franchitti Le Mans diary: take one

My first laps around Le Mans La Sarthe circuit By Marino Franchitti I'm so glad to be able to share the experience of my first 24 Hours of Le Mans with the readers of Motorsport.com. Marino Franchitti. Photo by Eric Gilbert. To ...

My first laps around Le Mans La Sarthe circuit
By Marino Franchitti

I'm so glad to be able to share the experience of my first 24 Hours of Le Mans with the readers of Motorsport.com.

Marino Franchitti.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
To finally get to drive at Le Mans is such a big thing for me, I have dreamed of doing this race ever since I was a kid, watching Derek Bell and Jackie Ickx on television in the factory Porsches. I've been driving sportscars since 2001 and though I have been close a couple of times to driving here, it's never quite come off. At last! So, it goes without saying that a huge thank you goes out to Don Panoz and everyone at Panoz Motor Sport.

The test day was very tough for the crew on the #78 Bank of Scotland Corporate Panoz Esperante GTLM. We had a lot of small problems which we worked through, the guys busted a gut all day. It stopped us doing as much running as we wanted but Bryan Sellers and I got our required ten laps as first time racers at the circuit. And Patrick Bourdais had a chance to get used to the car. They were the main objectives for the team, so we were happy to accomplish them.

The speed of the #77 team car fills us with confidence for qualifying and the race. We didn't get the opportunity for a soft tire run like they had, I was belted in, ready to go at 6:40 p.m. and the tires had just left the heating tent when the rain came. Frustrating, but we'll save it for next week.

Bryan Sellers and Patrick Bourdais.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
During the test and later for the race week, Bryan and myself are kindly being put up by Patrick at his home in Le Mans. I'm in Sebastian's room which is really cool! Patrick doesn't speak much English so Bryan and I are perfecting speaking in hand gestures only!

On a personal note, I took the opportunity of the week's break to make my way home to God's country, or Scotland to everyone else! It's fantastic to be home and see my family, Mum's cooking is great preparation for next week. Also, the hills near home are great for some last minute training. I do get some strange looks when I'm out running in winter gear trying to replicate the heat inside the Esperante!

I'm meeting up with Allan McNish tomorrow as he's in Edinburgh doing some interviews so I'll take that opportunity to pick his brain more on Le Mans and all that I need to know. Jimmy Stewart (Jackie Stewart's brother) was at the Indy 500 and he was telling me how fast the Jaguars were on the Mulsanne when he did Le Mans, they were quicker than we go now!!

So, thank you again for joining me on my adventure to Le Mans and I'll check back in on Tuesday, our scrutineering day held in the town and not at the track.

Editor's Note:
When I, Nancy Knapp Schilke, learned that Marino had landed the ride at Le Mans, I visited him at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he was giving support to his brother Dario's efforts in the recent Indianapolis 500 race. After my interview with the talented racer, he offered to give Motorsport.com's readers an insight to the Le Mans adventure. Of course, the offer was accepted!

Please continue checking Motorsport.com's Le Mans page to read Marino's diary: Le Mans 2005

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