Monterey, Calif. (8 September 2012) - Michael Marsal faced another frustrating outing in the penultimate round of GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition when a promising run was cut short when the engine on the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW let go after running in top ten contention.
While Marsal usually opens each race before handing the car over to co-driver Boris Said, the team changed up the strategy and tapped Said for the qualifying duties, with Marsal set to race to the finish.
Said opened the 2.5-hour Continental Tire Sports Car Festival race from fifth on the 63-car combined class grid and moved into the fourth position by the end of Lap 1.
The lanky and affable multi-category racer had an adventurous stint, pushed in part by some inconsistent handling on the BMW M3. A quick stop to have the team examine the rear of the car when he felt something amiss following slight contact with another car cost some track position.
But when the Turner team determined there was no significant damage to the BMW, Said returned to the track 16th in the order. He worked his way up to the 11th position when the Turner squad took advantage of the fifth race caution and brought the BMW to pit road for a routine pit stop and driver change.
Marsal joined the field 19th in the order and moved up to 17th but would immediately have to pit for a "stop and go" issued by GRAND-AM for a previous race incident involving Said. Remaining on the lead lap, Marsal returned to the track 17th only to see the sixth of 11 full course cautions. The team called Marsal to pit road for fuel only hoping that the strategy would play into their favor with Marsal's fuel load taking him to the finish while the other cars would still need to make one more stop.
Marsal worked his way into the top-10 - running as high as ninth. With 56 minutes remaining, Marsal ran 11th and looked poised to move further forward when smoke began billowing from the rear of the No. 97 machine - ending his day early.
"It's just a bummer - the really sad part is we had a strong car here and we were running well all weekend," said Marsal, who picked up his first-ever class victory in American Le Mans Series competition last weekend in Baltimore. "We weren't the fastest guys out there but Turner Motorsport sets up the engine for the long term runs and running into stupid issues like