MARINO TAKES PODIUM AT SILVERSTONE 24 HOURS The Britcar 24 Hours is building itself up to become one of the "must do" races on the endurance calendar. In contrast to last year's torrential rain and atrocious weather, this year's event was staged...
MARINO TAKES PODIUM AT SILVERSTONE 24 HOURS
The Britcar 24 Hours is building itself up to become one of the "must do" races on the endurance calendar.
In contrast to last year's torrential rain and atrocious weather, this year's event was staged in beautiful late summer sunshine, with temperatures soaring into the high 80's over the Northampton based Silverstone circuit, and in only it's second year of running, the 3-day Britcar event attracted a 53 car grid.
Qualifying was held early on Friday morning in perfect weather conditions, Marino qualifying the No. 27 Porsche GT3 Cup car 4th overall, nearly 1.5 seconds faster than last year, with the car in exactly the same configuration but one year older! It was in fact the same car that Marino drove to 9th in class at the Nurburgring 24 Hours in June this year.
His co-drivers were the same too, car owner Bill Cameron, and fellow Scot, Barry Horne. "It's a great group of guys to work with" said Marino, "Barry and Bill both have safe pairs of hands and are great mates, and Stuart (Parker) who runs the car is great too. It's like coming back to the family. I just hope we can go better than 2nd in class as we did last year, but the Duller Motorsport BMW is going to be really tough competition".
However Friday's night practice session threw a gremlin into the works. "The engine felt as if it was tightening up, but we've checked everything and can't find anything wrong with it" commented Marino. "We're now going to change the fuel pump and see if that sorts it out".
Warm-up at midday on Saturday went well, and the problem was thought to be cured.
Unlike most of the famous 24 hour races, the Britcar starts later than any of them, at 17.00hrs to be precise. Marino was start driver, and for the first 20 laps the car ran well. However, the engine began to slow again and Marino brought the No. 27 Porsche back into the pits. The team decided to change the ECU and hoped the problems had been solved. "I had to keep turning off the electrics and restarting the engine, it was so frustrating because we had a good car under us, and it was a niggling problem that was causing us a huge amount of time" said Marino. By the end of the first hour they had dropped to 13th overall and 3 laps down on the leading Duller Motorsport BMW.
But undaunted they slowly clawed their way back up the grid, and subsequent problems with the BMW saw them holding a steady 2nd place overall 8 hours into the race with Marino briefly taking the lead towards the end of his double stint.
But as night wore on, problems were still arising, not only having to contend with fuel issue, which didn't go away, Bill Cameron also encountered a puncture and a broken gear stick. Several yellow caution periods later, a very heavy mist, almost fog, descended over the track giving rise to nearly 4 hours being run under pace car conditions in the early hours of the morning.
As the sun rose and burned off the moisture the No. 27 Porsche was still being confronted with various misfortunes and minor problems, so much so that after 15 hours they were back down the order in 8th place overall. The team and drivers could only deal with the problems as they arose and push on maximising every opportunity that came their way. Slowly they climbed back up the leaderboard.
With just about 4 hours remaining Marino was back behind the wheel, but with no radio contact to his pit, the buttons on the steering wheel having broken, "I just kept pushing, that was all I could do, I knew we were on for a class podium, but I wanted to try to get 3rd place overall which I believed was doable", but with just under an hour to go, the team decided to put Bill in for the finish, and with the demise of the two Porsches above them, the No. 27 settled comfortably for 4th place overall, and 2nd in class.
"Considering all the problems we had, the team did an amazing job" said Marino at the end of the race. "It was tough, but a great result, and I can't thank everyone enough. I've now competed in four 24 hours races this season and finished them all in the top ten, I'm delighted".
Marino's 24 hour results this year are quite remarkable and speak for themselves, 8th overall and 8th in class at the start of the year in Daytona, 19th overall and 9th in class at Nurburgring (220 starters) in June, last month 10th overall and 3rd in class at Spa Francorchamps, and now here in Silverstone 4th overall and 2nd in class, an outstanding achievement.