It was the third round of the Grand-Am Sportscar race in Homestead, Florida, Saturday and without doubt it was probably the toughest race for Marino in a long time. Problems began in practice on Thursday when some fluid had been spilled on the...
It was the third round of the Grand-Am Sportscar race in Homestead, Florida, Saturday and without doubt it was probably the toughest race for Marino in a long time.
Problems began in practice on Thursday when some fluid had been spilled on the track causing fellow Scot, Ryan Dalziel, in his Pontiac Riley to hit the wall in front of Marino forcing Marino to take evasive action and go low on the banking putting his wheels into the soft grass and ripping the nose off the No. 11 CITGO/Samax Pontiac Riley.
The team worked hard to get the damage repaired and consequently had to miss some of practice on Friday morning, but the car was repaired and incredibly was working much better than it had done the previous day. As Milka Duno was qualifying, Marino only managed four laps on Friday, but enough for him to be happy with the car.
Milka qualified the car in 23rd place on Friday afternoon, and with a field of 47 cars on the short 2.3 mile road coarse it was going to be a tough race with a lot of traffic to encounter.
Milka began the race and with no yellow flag cautions it was run at a fast and furious pace. Milka handed the car over to Marino on lap 45 having had a tough stint and been passed by the leading Alex Job Porsche Crawford driven by Mike Rockenfeller and Pat Long, the eventual winners of the race.
Marino pushed hard making up a couple of places fairly quickly, but a yellow flag 7 laps into Marino's stint for the Andy Wallace/Butch Leitzinger Pontiac Crawford bunched all the traffic up. The caution only lasted 3 laps, and as the cars sped off on the restart, unbeknown to Marino a huge "traffic jam" was backing itself up in the final hairpin as Marino came upon it at full racing speed. He braked hard, but unfortunately finished up going backwards into the grass, "I jumped on the brakes and lost it" said a very disappointed Marino at the end of the race. "It was a huge bottleneck, and I was going at racing speed when I saw it, I hit the brakes as hard as I could. I came to rest with only my rear wheels in the gravel, but I was stuck hard and had to wait to be taken out". Marino came into the pits, the tyres were changed and he went back out to finish the race.
"When I got back into the race I was 4 laps down. It was a huge disappointment, and I feel really bad for Milka and the guys who worked so hard to put things right after Thursday's practice session. Homestead was important for us all, but now we have to take away the positives we learned here at Homestead, and we did find out a lot more about this chassis, and take them with us to Long Beach where we can hopefully put them to good use in two week's time."
The fourth round of the Rolex Grand-Am Sportscar Championship will be shared with America's Champ Car Series on the streets of Long Beach, California, on Saturday, 8th April.