Marino Franchitti LM24 Interviewposted in LEMANS17 | 06 | 2016

    WHILE FOUR HIGH-PROFILE Scots, including Olympian Sir Chris Hoy, will tackle this weekend’s Le Mans 24-Hours, one driver — Bathgate’s Marino Franchitti —stands out as the one most likely to succeed.

    The 37-year-old will lead Ford’s four-car assault on the world’s most demanding endurance race, marking 50 years since the American car giant shocked the racing establishment of Ferrari by finishing 1-2-3 at the French circuit in 1966.

    While Audi, Porsche and Toyota will battle for overall honours in the more powerful LMP1 class, the Scot will battle it out amongst his 13 GTE Pro rivals.

    For Franchitti — the younger brother of IndyCar legend, Dario — the elevation to a full Ford factory driver is the current pinnacle in a successful sportscar career.

    And the significance of wearing the Blue Oval Ford badge on his racesuit hasn’t been lost on the Scot.

    “As a Scotsman, putting the racesuit on and having the Blue Oval on your chest is very special,” Franchitti said, as he watched his crew prepare his gleaming red, white and blue #67 Ford GT race car for the start of tomorrow’s race.

    “To be a Ford factory driver following in the footsteps of the legendary Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart is something very special for me.

    "This is massive for me. I wanted this so badly. To be with Ford returning to Le Mans 50 years after they first won, and the 1-2-3 finish, is a dream come true.


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    "Ford has been away from frontline motorsport for so many years, so this is very special not just for me, but for everyone associated with the team and Ford. I’m proud to be representing not only Scotland, but the 300,000-odd global employees of Ford.”

    Franchitti, who ironically started his motor racing career in Formula Ford at Knockhill, is partnered by fellow Brits, multiple World Touring Car champ Andy Priaulx, and 2014 Le Mans LMP2 winner Harry Tincknell.

    While Audi, Porsche and Toyota will battle for overall honours in the more powerful LMP1 class, the Scot will battle it out amongst his 14 rivals in the intensely competitive GTE Pro class.

    And the Scot, who finished second in the last round of the World Endurance Championship — for which Le Mans is the Blue Riband race — is quietly confident the evolution of his Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team over the past few months will pay dividends.

    "I'm fortunate to have worked on the development of these cars since early last year," Franchitti, who will be making his sixth appearance on the gruelling 8.45-mile La Sarthe circuit, explained, "and we showed, first at Silverstone, the opening round of the WEC, and then Spa, that we have a fast, reliable car.

    "I love developing cars, but to also be involved on the team side, and watching them build the team, has been really interesting. You watch it all gel together. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of.

    “Make no bones about it, we’re here with one aim in mind, and that’s to win at Le Mans. And to pull it off would mean everything.

    “It’s something I’ve wanted to do as a child; the reason I got into this sport was to be a sportscar driver and to try to win Le Mans 24-Hours.

    “But as someone said to me this week, ‘you don’t choose to win at Le Mans, it chooses you’. It is so, so difficult to win here. But we’ll be throwing everything at it over the 24 hours this weekend.”

    Related: Porsche grabs provisional LM24 pole

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    Jim McGill


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