Marino Franchitti is a British racing driver who competed mostly in sports car championships. The highlights of his career is a victory at Sebring 12 Hours in 2014 with Chip Ganassi Racing. Earlier in a career, Marino's greatest success was the second place in LMP2 class of the American Le Mans Series in 2009.
Late start of a career
Marino Alessandro Cesare Franchitti was bornin July 1978 in Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland. As a teenager, influenced by his older and better-known brother Dario, Marino began to race in the lower categories of single-seaters in the second half of the 1990s. The results were pretty poor but Marino learned quickly and gained some valuable experience.
In 2001 Franchitti switched to sports cars and enjoyed instant success. Marino raced in GTO class of the British GT Championship and won the title after scoring eight wins driving the Porsche GT3 RS. In the following year, Marino joined his brother in the United States and appeared in four races of Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series. He scored one win in LMP 675 class and also had other three podiums.
Le Mans 24h debut and departure to the US
In the following years Franchitti shared his duties with considerable success between various championships and categories. In 2003 Marino finished 4th in the class at Le Mans 1000km driving the Ferrari 360 GT. In 2004 he won the pole position at Sebring 12 Hours driving the LMP 670 Lola-Nissan while in 2005 Franchitti made his debut at Le Mans 24 Hours GTLM class in Panoz Esperante but he failed to finish the race.
The season of 2006 was pretty fine for the Scot. He raced with Scuderia Ecosse’s Ferrari 430 and finished 2nd in GT2 class at Petit Le Mans. That year Franchitti also raced in the FIA GT Championship. He won the round at Adria Raceway and finished 3rd at 24 Hours of Spa.
American Le Mans Series vice-champion in 2009
Finally, in 2007 Franchitti was able to sign a full-time deal to drive for Andretti-Green Racing in the P2 class of the American Le Mans Series. Driving the Acura alongside Bryan Herta he scored modest results and left the team at the end of the season. Marino stayed in the ALMS in 2008 but this time driving the Dyson Racing’s Porsche RS Spyder alongside Butch Leitzinger. Their best result was 2nd place at 12 Hours of Sebring but Marino's highlight of the year was the victory in the VLN race at Nurburgring where he was a member of Hisaq Racing.
Franchitti stayed with the Dyson Racing in 2009 and that proved to be a good decision. Driving a Lola-Mazda, Franchitti and Leitzinger won the races at Lime Rock Park and Petit Le Mans before finishing the season as vice-champions in the LMP2 class.
Valuable team driver
In 2010 Marino helped Patron Highcroft Racing to win Teams’ Championship title in the ALMS LMP2 class. Driving alongside David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud he triumphed at Petit Le Mans, won the pole position for 12 Hours of Sebring where he eventually finished 2nd in the race, and also scored his best result at Le Mans 24 Hours so far. Driving an Acura alongside David Brabham and Marco Werner, the Scot of an Italian origin finished 9th in the LMP2 class and 25th overall.
The following campaign was unusually quiet. Franchitti appeared in a very limited number of events but still was able to finish 2nd overall at 12 Hours of Sebring, again with Pagenaud and Brabham as co-drivers.
Developing DeltaWing prototype
Signing with Peugeot to become LMP1 factory driver had to be a big step forward in Franchitti’s career but the program was subsequently canceled.
However, in 2012 Marino was Race and Development driver for the Nissan DeltaWing which included Le Mans 24 hours but the most famous motorsports event ended with a retirement on lap 75. Marino also drove for the PR1/Mathasian Motorsports PC team in selected events and won the event at Mid-Ohio.
Victory at 2014 Sebring 12 Hours
The season of 2013 was one of the best in a career of younger Franchitti. Driving the Level 5 Motorsport’s HPD ARX-03b alongside Scott Tucker, Ryan Briscoe, and Guy Cosmo, Marino won 5 out of 10 races in the LMP2 class of ALMS, contriburing to team's championship title. Marino himself was fourth in drivers' standings.
In 2014 Marino Franchitti finally scored an overall win at Sebring 12 Hours. As a driver of Chip Ganassi Riley-Ford, British driver triumphed in one of the most important endurance races in the US, with Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett as co-drivers. The season of 2015 was marked with a class victory at Nurburgring 24 Hours where Franchitti shared the seat of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 003C with David Jahn, Franck Mailleux, and Manuel Lauck.
Participating in Ford GT's revival in 2016
In 2016, Marino Franchitti participated in Ford GT's revival in endurance racing. He was driving the #67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK in six rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship, including Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing a car with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. They finished second at 6 Hours of Spa and ninth in GTE Pro class at Le Mans.
Franchitti left the team after six rounds. In 2017 and 2018, he joined Mazda Motorsports in several rounds of the IMSA SportsCar Championship and participated in some historic races but his full-time racing career is effectively over.