Marino Franchitti makes his return to the American Le Mans Series this weekend, the Scot stepping into the lead driver role for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports' PC class car at Mosport. Franchitti will race with Ken Dobson's in the team's No. 52 car.
While Franchitti's level of experience within ALMS spans P1, P2 and the GT ranks, this marks his first PC class start. His last two ALMS starts came with HPD cars, Sebring and Petit Le Mans 2011 with Highcroft Racing and Level 5 Motorsports, respectively. The bulk of his year was spent with Highcroft's Nissan DeltaWing project that raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, although the car retired before he had a chance to race it per the rotation.
“I've not had the chance to drive an LMPC car before, but all my friends that have driven them have enjoyed the experience,” he said. “They speak about the torque of the engine and the consistency of the Michelin tires, the latter being no surprise to me, so I'm excited to join the team, work with Ken and feel the car for myself this weekend. The small amount of experience I have of spec racing has taught me that when everyone has the same equipment, finding an advantage is very difficult and in order to give yourself and the team the chance to compete for the victory, you have to get every little detail spot on, and hopefully we can achieve that.”
Franchitti replaces Butch Leitzinger at least for this race. PR1 ran all but one race in 2010 and sporadically in 2011, without having the same driver lineup for the balance of the season. Team principal Bobby Oergel discussed what adding Franchitti brings to the table.
“Having Marino and Dobson in the car this weekend gives us a lot of confidence,” Oergel said. “We've had a tremendous path of growth with Butch Leitzinger in the car last year and the first few rounds this season; really bringing us to a whole new level. Butch helped us get our first win last year, and was instrumental in improving our performance throughout the program. Looking to the immediate future, it will be critical that we help get Marino up to speed with our crew and engineering staff as fast as possible to capitalize on everything that we've been building on in the last few years. Having followed his career closely for several years, I know that we'll have more than a fighting chance this weekend.”