Franchitti & McGarrity – Eventful
Week At Sebring
Or uneventful until Saturday – or uneventful
until Thursday…it all depends on how you look
at it. For race partners Marino Franchitti and Kevin
McGarrity, they’re still together now, a week
after the race, in Kevin’s native Belfast.
But that’s getting ahead of the story.
it supposed to be the three of you racing at Sebring: Franchitti,
McGarrity and Phil Bennett?
Phil did most of the testing with us, and he was going really
well. The whole Risi team were impressed with the way he was
going, and the way the car was performing – from the
moment it arrived straight from Italy, for a long test in January.
But Phil had to leave Sebring early in race week, owing to
business commitments, leaving Kevin and myself to do it together.
We arrived on the Friday, so we’d had over a week at
the track, which is far longer than for a normal race.
Kevin get the drive with you?
The team needed a third driver for Sebring, Kevin is an old
mate and blindingly quick, and it was just natural that he’d
fill the third seat.
GT drive then, Kevin. What did you make of the Ferrari 360?
It’s very different from a prototype, but it handles
very well, and we hardly had a problem all week, which is a
tribute to the Risi Competizione team. What a professional
bunch to work with. Just Marino and I made it more intense,
and we got more driving each so I had plenty of time to adjust
to the car.
us through the early part of the week please, Marino.
We didn’t go out in all the sessions from Monday, we
didn’t need to. The track conditions were changing all
the time, so we could have confused ourselves on the set-up
if we’d kept on changing the car. We basically went out
when it suited us to go out, working towards the race all the
I knew there
were going to be three Porsches ahead of us on the grid, no
more. Risi are making huge strides with the car, and we’re
getting closer to the Porsches all the time. But we lose out
on the straights, to the extent of maybe four or five car lengths
on the back straight. I can’t say what developments they’ve
got in hand, but they’re working very hard to get up
with the Porsches.
The 360 brakes fantastically, it’s good in all types of corner,
it just needs a little more poke.
were all set up for Qualifying…what happened?
We missed half of the (short) qualifying session. On Thursday
morning, the gearbox played up – just an electrical thing,
but they had to change everything, or nearly everything. There
was one component they couldn’t change in the time, and
that was the one playing up, so we still had the problem in
Qualifying. I ended up twelfth, whereas I should have been
right up there with Ralf (Kelleners - photo).
two speak to each other during the race?
Just a couple of ‘how are you doings’ as we changed
over at pit stops. That was it. The first time I spoke to Kevin
properly, he was on a stretcher.
the race until the accident, Marino.
Very intense, very enjoyable. We would have been third – and
with the Petersen car disqualified, we would have had second.
During Kevin’s stint that ended with the accident, he
was catching the #31 too. I think that sort of pace compared
to what they were doing at the time made them re-think their
strategy. Basically, Kevin and I were banging in low 2:09s
on clear laps, 2:10s when we were in traffic.
are you, Kevin, and what happened early on Saturday evening?
The painkillers take some of the pain away, but not all of
it by any means. I’m getting a bit of sleep, but if I
wake up, the pain keeps me awake.
In the race,
we’d got to that point where you’re starting to
think that it will be great to get to the finish in such a
good position. We’d done most of the hard work.
out of Turn 17, all I felt was a bang at the back. I know your
eye-witness said that he thought I was hit side on, but it
felt like the back to me. But in darkness you just see the
lights, so I had no idea which car it was. But I know that
whoever it was didn’t do it on purpose.
there is that the wall is so close. I corrected it but slammed
into the wall, my feet were injured and trapped round the pedals,
and the car was wanting to catch fire. I ended up hauling myself
out of it and falling onto the ground, which was pretty painful.
But the breaks
are clean and I’ll be fit to drive in four to six weeks.
I’m talking to several people, and I definitely want
to be there. I want to get back in a prototype.
were your thoughts on the aftermath of the accident Marino?
Once the IMSA officials arrived, Kevin had fantastic treatment,
but the marshals (corner workers) didn’t perform well
at all. A marshal arrived and ran off for help. The next one
arrived with an extinguisher, looked in and ran away. Poor
old Kevin had to chuck himself onto the ground. But the IMSA
guys were fantastic.
than the unfortunate end to your race, what did you think
of your first ALMS race, Kevin?
I thoroughly enjoyed it. The fans were great. We went over
to Green Park to see what was going on during the Thursday
evening, and we’d planned on going over there again after
the race. But that plan didn’t come off, did it? I ended
up in hospital, Marino accompanied me back to the UK, and here
he is in Belfast, keeping me company.
plans for the rest of the season, each of you?
It’s not agreed yet how many races Phil and I will be
doing, but obviously I’d like to complete the ALMS season
and we’re working towards that. And then there’s
I’d love to do the ALMS, but Le Mans is the next race
a few days in Southern Ireland will surely help the healing