Marino Franchitti race report

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So Close to the Finish The build-up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans is almost as demanding, if not more so, than the race itself. Marino arrived into a rain soaked Le Mans on the evening of Sunday 7th June, which gave him just one day to prepare...

So Close to the Finish

The build-up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans is almost as demanding, if not more so, than the race itself. Marino arrived into a rain soaked Le Mans on the evening of Sunday 7th June, which gave him just one day to prepare before the downtown spectacle of scrutineering on the morning of Tuesday. Wednesday saw all the teams out on track for a six hour non-stop practice session from 6.00pm until midnight, giving all three of the Drayson Racing drivers, Paul Drayson, Jonny Cocker and Marino the opportunity to get used to their Aston Martin Vantage GT2 car and get the compulsory 10 laps under each of their belts and unfortunately all completed in very wet conditions as the bad weather had thus far been unrelenting.

Because of the ACO's decision to abandon the Pre-test this year, and with the Wednesday session being given over to practice, unlike previous years Thursday became the only qualifying opportunity, split into two 2-hour sessions. Finally the teams had a dry track to run on, and all were trying to find their optimum set-up for the race as well as trying to set their best times. Jonny Cocker, Paul Drayson's regular co-driver in the LMS Series, was selected to set the qualifying time in the #87 Drayson Racing Vantage and he managed a 4:06.482 around the 13.629km track, placing the team 9th in the 17 strong GT2 class.

Friday, without any track action, one might think could be classed as a day of rest for the drivers, but far from it. Their day is completely filled with appearances, interviews and various other PR commitments, all of which is rounded off by the famous Driver Parade through the streets of a very crowded downtown Le Mans. Marino was particularly pleased to have members of his family amongst the crowd cheering him and his co-drivers on.

It's a long wait from Warm-Up at 8.30am to the start of the race at 3.00pm on race day, and Jonny Cocker was behind the wheel for the opening stint in the #87 car. The driver rotation was Jonny, followed by Paul and then Marino, and each driver single stinting until darkness fell meant that the 13-lap, approximately 55 minute stints came round very quickly indeed. The car was running consistently until a stop just after 3.00am to fix an alternator problem lost the team some track time. However, nearly 10 hours later and just two hours from the end of the race, it was to be another alternator problem that left Jonny Cocker stranded beside the track with total loss of power and a final abandonment just over half an hour later and the race so close to its finish.

"It was amazing to be back competing at Le Mans and although we came up just short of our ultimate goal, it was a very strong performance by the whole team and I was proud to be a part of it" said Marino after the race. "I have to thank everyone at Drayson racing for the fantastic welcome they gave me and also Dyson Racing and Mazda for giving their blessing to compete in this great race. I can't wait to come back next year!"

-credit: marinofranchitti.com

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Series LEMANS