With seven different manufacturers, a strong roster of teams and a deep pool of driving talent, the competition in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar GTD class is arguably some of the toughest on offer. That highly competitive field was underscored on Sunday for Turner Motorsport pilot Michael Marsal as a momentary loss of drive ultimately saw his No. 97 Alvarez & Marsal/IHG Rewards Club BMW GT3 cross the finish line in 12th place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with co-driver Markus Palttala.
While the result was outside of what Marsal had been hoping for, the young New York-based racer and his Finnish co-driver now sit fourth in the IMSA driver championship standings with three of the 11 races of the 2016 championship now in the books.
While the weekend was the first for the Turner Motorsport squad with the all-new GT3-spec BMW M6, Marsal and the team have a good record of strong performances at the 2.238-mile California circuit, including a run to the podium in GT-class action for Marsal in 2013. The low-grip surface had the team targeting continued improvement through the weekend, with the group developing more pace with every session.
Marsal started from the seventh row and moved up to race in 12th early in his 41-lap stint. A quick reaction when he lost fuel pressure meant that he was able to cycle to the ancillary fuel pump, but not before before losing forward drive and a lot of track position.
Undeterred, Marsal continued to claw his way back until turning the car over to Palttala, who was able to score one final position on the last lap of the two-hour race to score 12th at the checkered flag.
“We struggled a bit today with the handling of the car really, combined with losing a fuel pump, we were further back than we wanted to be,” said Marsal, “This is just not a very grippy track, and you’ve got to be careful to not burn off your tires trying to make things happen. The start of the race was pretty good and I was able to get into a groove with the car. But when we lost the fuel pump, we lost a lot of ground that we just weren’t able to make up. But it was a solid weekend and we’re learning more and more about this IHG Rewards M6 and just want to keep unlocking speed with it. Hopefully we can keep doing that at Detroit!”
June 4th will mark the next round of IMSA WeatherTech Championship competition as the series heads to Belle Isle and the Detroit Grand Prix
Source. Sunday Group/Photo. BMW