ALMS 2010 Round 1 : 12 Hours of Sebring Warm sunshine, good track conditions and spectators galore all combined to welcome the teams to the track this morning for the 58th running of arguably the most famous race in the US, the 12 Hours of ...
ALMS 2010 Round 1 : 12 Hours of Sebring
Warm sunshine, good track conditions and spectators galore all combined to welcome the teams to the track this morning for the 58th running of arguably the most famous race in the US, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and Team Patron Highcroft could not have been in better shape.
After two days of testing and two further days of official practice sessions, Marino Franchitti had been selected to qualify the #1 LMP2 Patron Highcroft Racing HPD ARX-01c car around the 3.7 mile Sebring circuit here yesterday afternoon, and Marino could not have done it in better style placing the Highcroft car on pole in LMP2 class, and 5th overall on the 34 car grid.
His lap time of 1:47.684 was just 0.054secs ahead of the 2nd placed car in LMP2, the #6 Porsche RS Spyder of Team Cytosport. "I am delighted for the Patron Highcroft team it's a great start, but we all have to get the job done tomorrow", said Marino in his post qualifying press conference. "When the team asked me to qualify the car, I was happy to accept. I was really touched, amazed and happy to be asked, I didn't think I would get the opportunity this year, but both my team mates, David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud, gave me the backing to do it. The Sebring 12 Hours is one trophy that I know Duncan (Duncan Dayton, team owner) wants to have in the trophy cabinet in Connecticut and we're going to do our best to get it for him".
It was Simon Pagenaud who took the start of the race here at 10.30am this morning, and he immediately began pulling a gap to the Porsche RS Spyder, a gap that was to extend to five laps as each of the three Patron Highcroft drivers cycled through their double-stints. But just short of nine hours racing as Simon Pagenaud brought the car into the pit to change over to Marino, smoke was seen escaping from the dashboard. The team were immediately on the car discovering two electrical wires had chaffed and welded themselves together. It took almost 25 minutes to repair the problem and by the time Marino exited the pit, the Patron Highcroft car had not only dropped from 4th to 5th overall, but more importantly to 2nd in class, losing 6 laps to the #6 Porsche RS Spyder. Marino only drove half his stint having to bring the car back in for David Brabham to get his time behind the wheel to secure the points necessary for a driver competing in all 9 races in the 2010 ALMS season. Ironically the car continued flawlessly, David Brabham pitting for the final time with just 45 minutes of the race remaining and handing over to Marino to run to the chequered flag. The #1 Patron Highcroft car made up two of the lost laps, completing 349 laps in total, and finishing 5th overall and 2nd in LMP2 class as well as gathering valuable points for the Championship.
Following the race Marino commented: "The Patron Highcroft team were fantastic all day - the pitstops, the strategy, my teammates - everyone executed to the best of their abilities which is great to see so early in the season. I went to get in the car for my final double stint and noticed smoke and discovered there was a barbecue going on in the passenger side! That wasn't so good. Luckily the guys were on it quickly with a fire extinguisher and got it under control. The crew did an amazing job to get the car back on track; not only did they fix the problem quickly, but to have every single electrical system perform faultlessly after that was amazing. To do that in pit lane, under so much pressure, really shows what this team is all about, it was a fantastic recovery. I'm disappointed we didn't get the victory, but we scored fantastic points for the championship and our main goal was to come out of here strong. We can be very proud of what everybody achieved."
The 2nd round of the ALMS championship takes place at Long Beach, California on Saturday, 17th April.
-source: marino franchitti