Birmingham: Marino Franchitti race report

In the wake of a tropical rainstorm passing over Alabama, the penultimate round of the Rolex Grand-Am Series played itself out under extremely changeable conditions earlier today. Marino Franchitti and Gunnar Jeannette worked hard in the No. 60...

In the wake of a tropical rainstorm passing over Alabama, the penultimate round of the Rolex Grand-Am Series played itself out under extremely changeable conditions earlier today.

Marino Franchitti and Gunnar Jeannette worked hard in the No. 60 Brumos Porsche GT3 RS throughout the 3 days to try to find a good car set-up, "we chased it all weekend, but the car was far from perfect" said the Scot.

Gunnar qualified the car on Saturday, but on his second lap with an evil handling car he flat spotted the tyres and immediately came into the pits - qualifying over for the No. 60 Porsche. A time of 2:00.147 was to put them 12th in class and 37th overall in the field of 39 cars. Gunnar and Marino agreed there was only one way to go from there, and that had to be "forward"!.

Given their problems Gunnar started the race on slick tyres on a damp track and as cars fell by the wayside, Gunnar pressed on, he made up 8 places on the first lap, a further 6 on the second, and 5 on his third, by lap six he had settled into 15th place overall and 4th in class. Admittedly there had been casualties in the wet conditions, but Gunnar took no prisoners in his relentless fight to get further up the rankings.

A second yellow spell 23 laps into the race dropped them down the order to 7th in class, in fact each yellow in the race, of which there were 5 in total, did not work in their favour.

Marino took over the car during the 3rd yellow session opting to stay on slick tyres. At that point they were 5th in class and jockeying between 15th and 18th place overall as incidents happened and the Prototypes took their pit stops and then made their way back up the order.

Marino continued to fight the car and clawed his way up to 3rd in class. He was holding position until the 4th yellow came out giving the other GT cars another opportunity to catch back up on his tail. At the 4th restart the No. 77 GT car of Greenberg and Pumpelly, which because of the No. 60's bad handling, had been lapping up to 4 seconds a lap faster than their No. 60 car, was right on Marino's bumper, "I held him for 3 laps after the restart," said Franchitti, "but there was just no way I could hold him any longer and passed me he went."

Two laps later out came the 5th yellow flag, and a further 2 laps after that the chequered flag dropped!

"Gunnar and I are both bitterly disappointed because we both knew that with a better car set-up a podium was definitely ours, but looking at the positives the final result was much better than we had expected, and probably better than we deserved given the handling problems we had".

The car might not have been perfect, but some solid consistent driving by Jeannette and Franchitti had taken the Brumos Porsche from 37th to 14th overall and from 12th to 4th in GT class - a tremendous effort in very difficult conditions.

-kwa-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Gunnar Jeannette , Marino Franchitti