Braselton, Ga. (1 October 2016) – Turner Motorsport driver Michael Marsal and the No. 97 The Alvarez & Marsal/IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 crew were able to pull out a third place finish for the 19th running of the Petit Le Mans on Saturday in the last race of the season.
The race was the final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well as the Tequila Patron Endurance Championship and marked the duos first podium of the season.
The sweeping 2.54-mile circuit is a true test of endurance for all drivers but it proved to be no challenge for native New Yorker Marsal and the Turner team throughout the weekend. For the 10-hour endurance classic, Marsal and full-season co-driver Markus Palttala combined with Cameron Lawrence to keep the No. 97 consistently in the top-10 during all four practice sessions ahead of the race.
With clear blue skies and moderate temperatures on the horizon on Saturday morning, the weather was not a concern for the endurance event and Marsal opened the race prepared to make a run up the field. He was able to get a solid launch off the line at the green flag and quickly moved up before the first full course yellow at the one hour and 40-minute mark. As the initial hours ticked down, Marsal drove a clean and consistent race, fighting among the top ten runners in another exceedingly close-fought GTD match.
Unfortunately, Marsal’s stints would be plagued by a total of three full course yellows, one of which lasted one hour due to the track surface crumbling and causing a dangerous amount of debris.
Once the track returned to green, Marsal executed what appeared to be an effortless run as he was able to drive the BMW M6 machine all the way up to fifth place before handing the car off to co-drivers Cmaeron Lawrence and Markus Palttala who completed the final stints.
The talented trio worked together to recover eight positions, making their way up to third place where they resided for the majority of the race. As nighttime fell, Lawrence turned the wheel over to Palttala who polished off the last stint, crossing the line fourth place even despite of late race drama. That drama continued past the checkered flag, as a post-race ruling saw Marsal, Palttala, and Lawrence credited with a third place finish.
“The car was running really pretty well for my stints,” supplied Marsal. “It wasn’t an ideal starting position so my main focus was picking off as many other cars as quickly as possible. The start felt great, but we didn’t have much time to make up positions before we got hit with a few full course yellows which, unfortunately, lasted longer than we all had wanted. The yellows were a good opportunity for the team to make a great pit stop to refuel and get a new set of tires on, though. So thanks to the team for their hard work all season long.”
With the checkers on another successful IMSA season, Marsal now looks forward to 2017.
“Overall, I think that we really made the most of the Alvarez & Marsal/IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 and my co-divers, Markus (Palttalla) and Cameron (Lawrence), both did a great job with the car and getting it to finish where it did. This year was a tough one at times for the entire team and I wish we could have come out with more podium finishes. But, we know what we need to do moving into next year and I’m really looking forward to working with the team and looking on to 2017.”