Marino Franchitti press release
The #30 Gulf Western Oil Racing Holden Commodore VE Series II car of Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, driven by the very experienced Australian, Warren Luff, and Marino Franchitti at the highlight event on the V8 Supercar calendar, the Armor All Gold Coast 600.
The highlight of the Australian V8 Supercar calendar is certainly the Armor All Gold Coast 600 event with the Driver Entry List reading like a “Who’s Who” of international motor racing talent. Drivers from Formula One, IndyCar and the top Sportscar championships join the regular V8 Supercar contenders as their co-drivers to battle it out over two 300-mile races around the 2.96km street track.
It’s an event that this year was to be overshadowed by the tragic death of Dan Wheldon at the final IndyCar race just a week ago as Dan was due to have driven in the Gold Coast 600, but every car competing carried a “Lionheart” tribute to Dan’s memory and Marino and his fellow competing BRDC drivers also wore Dan’s name and the BRDC logo on their helmet visor strips.
The Gold Coast 600 is an event Marino has had his sights set on for some considerable time, “It’s a place I love, I can hang out with my pal James Courtney, and I get to drive the awesome V8’s, what more could you ask for” he said. Marino had headed out 2 weeks’ earlier to acclimatize and at the test last Wednesday Marino was happy finishing the day one-tenth of a second up on his co-driver, Warren Luff. However, at the four Official Practice sessions on Friday, two of which are allotted to the visiting International Drivers and two for all drivers combined, the #30 Gulf Western car was having brake issues and changes were made in readiness for the weekend’s first qualifying session and race.
Rain began falling just after the start of Saturday’s qualifying session, but Warren was able to position the car in 19th on the 28 car grid. Marino started the first of the two 300 mile races and initially maintained his position, but after developing very bad understeer was to drop back a few places. Trying to hang on and not tangle with any of the other competitors, on lap 13 he was suddenly hit by Gianni Morbidelli; Marino gave up the inside line, but at the exit to the hairpin he hit Marino again, this time in the left front tipping Marino into the tyre wall and breaking an upright. Despite limping the car back to the pits, the pair were forced to retire. “The start wasn’t too bad. It was a little bit chaotic out there, but we maintained our position. There were some slower guys in front that were backing everyone up and we lost a couple of places because of that. Suddenly Morbidelli dive bombed me at the hairpin, I gave him room, but on the exit he just drove me into the wall” said Marino. “It’s disappointing, and it’s a shame Warren couldn’t get a run in the car. We’ve made improvements since yesterday and I think we’ve got a good idea of more for tomorrow. I’m just looking forward to getting back out there”.
Unfortunately yesterday’s bad luck was to rub off again today. After Warren’s tough qualifying session this morning, only managing 27th on the grid, Marino was to have further problems forcing him to come to the pits before the start, but barely had the second race got underway than a broken gearbox line forced a second retirement. Marino’s first thoughts were for his team-mate Warren, “I really feel for Warren who didn’t get any race laps in over the weekend at all, and it was such a shame today because the car was at its best. After a fantastic test at Queensland raceway, I was very positive on our chances for the weekend, we really wanted to honor Dan's memory with a strong result, but that wasn't to be unfortunately, we just had one of those weekends that happens sometimes in racing, nothing went our way. I have to thank V8 Supercars for the opportunity to live out one of my dreams and the Lucas Dumbrell team for having me and for all their hard work over the weekend. I had a blast working with Warren and driving the Holden V8 Supercar, I learned a lot and can't wait to have another go next year”.
The first race on Saturday was won by Jamie Whincup and Indycar driver, Sebastian Bordais, and today’s race by Mark Winterbottom and Britain’s Richard Lyons.