After Early Setback, Michael Marsal Fights to Rolex 24 Finish for Turner Motorsport


Daytona Beach, Fla. (25 January 2015) – Champions just don’t give up, and Michael Marsal’s 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona was an ample demonstration of what it takes to earn a championship as the young driver and his Turner Motorsport squad fought to take a 12th place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Sunday.

While the finish was far from the way the team was hoping to start the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, the result marked a huge team effort to come away from Daytona with not only a modest collection of championship points, but also a wealth of experience for Marsal in his new 2015 ride, the No. 97 Alvarez & Marsal BMW Z4.

After the race day morning opened with rain showers, the skies cleared significantly to set the stage for a cool but perfectly clear race day as Marsal and his co-drivers Boris Said, Andy Priaulx, and full-season teammate Marcus Palttala worked through the morning schedule of drivers meeting, autograph session, fan walk and driver introductions before getting ready for the early afternoon race start.

But before the 24 hour classic could even get into a rhythm with 2014 BMW Trophy winner Palttala behind the wheel, the No. 97 machine was suffering as transmission woes created an early bad omen for the outing.

The team was able to send the car back to the garage and make a significant swap to have the transmission back in working order with the gear-changing actuator returning to life. But as Marsal took over the controls to make an exploratory trip back to the track, the race yielded yet more issues, as the complications were different than originally expected.

But the Turner team, which last year secured both the driver and team championships in IMSA competition, was on the case and undertook an even more comprehensive jobs list to sort out the transmission for good.

Unfortunately, after effectively undertaking two entire transmission swaps before returning to the track, the race effort was over 100 laps behind the race leader.

“The car was great once we got it going,” said Marsal, who had very limited exposure to the Z4 platform ahead of the weekend. “I’m pretty excited about driving the Z4 this season. It is different from anything I’ve driven before and it took a little while to get used to it. This was the perfect race from that point of view, just getting a lot of laps in and getting to feel it through the life of the tire.”

Another key motivating factor was the points on offer for both the overall IMSA TUDOR Championship, but also the four-round Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship. While the extra effort didn’t put the team in prime position for either championship, every point can be critical come October.

“The Turner guys really had to work a ton to get us going yesterday,” said Marsal. “Big thanks for that effort they kept putting in. You hate to start your race 100 laps down, but we knew we needed to get the drive time in and every lap we could bank to try and make up positions with attrition. We were hoping to maybe squeak in for a top-10 but it just didn’t happen. It wasn’t our weekend, but I’m really looking forward to Sebring and the rest of the season.”