Marino Franchitti Le Mans diary: take three

First qualifying: A tough night for us
By: Marino Franchitti

Not much to tell my friends at today. The 78 Panoz/ Bank of Scotland Corporate Esperante had a really tough night of qualifying.

#78 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz Elan: Bryan Sellers, Marino Franchitti, Patrick Bourdais.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
On Tuesday night Allan McNish and I went in his road car to check out the public road parts of the track, it's always interesting to see how he takes corners in the Audi R8. I was surprised how similar many of the lines we take are and it gave me a few things to think about and try. Also he gave me some idea of places and ways the prototypes pass here.

Yesterday was the longest day. We didn't run till seven in the evening but I was on track from 9:30am doing some interviews and other PR stuff. Our new race suits arrived which look really cool, unfortunately for me there must have been a mix up as they are a wee bit too baggy, I look a bit like Jacques Villeneuve which is not really my style.

Hindaugh and the folks at Radio Le Mans were on air yesterday which is just great. They do an amazing job and for me they are as much an essential part of Le Mans as say, the driver parade, I couldn't imagine coming here and not hearing those guys. If you can't be here and you want to feel the fever, check out

Getting down to business, my teammate Bryan Sellers started the session. It had been raining most of the day but the couple of hours before the session were dry so we were hopeful for a dry qualifying run. As Bryan started his installation lap, the heavens opened so we sat out the first hour.

As the rain eased, Bryan went out. We had a fuel pressure pick up problem so the crew went to work to find it. We basically chased the problem all night but the problem became worse and worse. We have now discovered the cause but it meant that we did no real flying laps last night and I did no laps at all. Of course we were disappointed but were pleased to find this issue now and not in the race.

In real terms, if it is dry tonight (which it looks like being) last nights times will be immaterial. As we are dead last at the moment the only way is up!

My friend Harry Gibbons from my long time sponsor Oakley came to visit me last night. I hadn't seen him for a couple of years, he's a crazy Irishman and I was glad he stopped by.

By the time the session had finished (midnight) and we left the track it was 1:00am so, as I said, it was a long day.

Hope I can bring you some better news tomorrow!