MARINO FRANCHITTI CONFIRMED WITH B-RACING FOR REMAINDER OF LMS SEASON. Having concluded his agreement with the team to run in the remaining LMS races with B-racing in the Lamborghini Murcielago GTR, Marino is now looking forward to next...
MARINO FRANCHITTI CONFIRMED WITH B-RACING FOR REMAINDER OF LMS SEASON.
Having concluded his agreement with the team to run in the remaining LMS races with B-racing in the Lamborghini Murcielago GTR, Marino is now looking forward to next weekend when he will compete with the team in the 1,000kms in Spa. "It's one of my very favourite tracks, and I can't wait to drive the Lamborghini Murcielago round it. I want to thank Norbert (Walchhofer) for giving me the opportunity to continue with the team and to help them with the development of the car".
But Marino's first priority this weekend was to compete with B-racing in the GT1 category at the first round of the 2006 FIA GT Championship which got underway at Silverstone in the UK this weekend. Perhaps lulled into a false sense of believing that summer had arrived when on Friday the whole track was bathed in blue skies and warm sunshine, it was soon dashed when steady rain duly fell during Saturday and on Sunday morning. Marino Franchitti had been asked by B-racing to take the Lamborghini Murcielago GTR seat left vacant by Christophe Bouchut's move to an Aston Martin, and, trying to learn as much as possible about his charge in just 2 practice sessions and changeable weather conditions, Marino, and his 2 co-drivers, Benjamin Leuenberger and Norbert Walchhofer, had their work cut out.
"With such a new project we just worked solidly as a team throughout both practice sessions, trying to maximise every opportunity on the track" said Marino. "We had a few issues following the first practice which we set about trying to solve in the second session in order to be better prepared for qualifying, but due to all wet weather conditions during qualifying we were confronted with a totally different set of circumstances". Leuenberger qualified the car on Saturday afternoon round Silverstone's 5.14km Grand Prix circuit slotting it into 18th place on the 29 car grid.
Rain had fallen steadily all morning, but had stopped by the time Marino took the wheel for the start of the FIA GT race at 1.30pm today. Having taken the rolling start on intermediate tyres, it was less than an hour into the race when the track had dried out sufficiently to require a pit stop to change onto slicks. Marino had worked his way steadily up the field into 13th place, when one of his side seat belts suddenly came open forcing him to make a further, unscheduled, pit stop. Back on track and having moved up into 11th place, Marino was getting ready to hand over to Leuenberger when the team's race disappointingly came to an abrupt end. "There was the loudest bang", said Marino, "My immediate thought was a tyre had blown, but almost as quickly I realised I had lost all drive to the car and was forced to park it at Bridge. It was such a pity because in every other respect the car had been running so well up to that point and the team had done a really good job at their first FIA GT race. It was a disappointing ending, but there is a positive side and it all bodes well for the future. The team now have some work to do before Spa, but we are all motivated to keep pushing this project forward, and I can't wait for next weekend".
The 1,000kms race in Spa Francorchamps is on Sunday 14th May.