Michael Marsal Post-Sebring Report

Turner Motorsport BMW driver Michael Marsal delivered another big performance at Sebring International Raceway this weekend as he impressed with a speedy triple stint in challenging conditions during the 64th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the way to a seventh place finish. 

Teaming with Turner Motorsport co-drivers Markus Palttala, and Jesse Krohn in the No. 97 Alvarez & Marsal/IHG Rewards Club BMW GT3, Marsal was looking to make the most of a solid start to the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after taking fifth in January’s  Rolex 24 At Daytona. 

Palttala opened the race to run ninth in the early stages before turning the car over to Marsal just before the one hour mark to return to the field in 11th. One of the first circuits that Marsal ever experienced, Sebring is a track that has seen the New York-based driver shine in everything from Prototypes to club racers, and Saturday added another chapter to that record of success for Marsal.  

Sebring’s 3.74-mile circuit carries a well-established reputation as one of the toughest tracks on the IMSA schedule, and with Saturday’s race featuring downpours so intense that the race was red-flagged for over two hours, that reputation was extended once again.

The track was a different challenge every lap, as the conditions caused issues for some of the best in the world, enough to create 13 caution periods, as well as the red flag. 

For Marsal, his stint saw a little bit of everything from downpours to a drying track. Despite avoiding any issues of his own, his luck wasn’t perfect unfortunately, as he was sent into a spin by another car on Lap 75 heading into Turn 17.

“I saw him coming, but I didn’t understand what he was trying to do and where he was trying to go. I’m not sure if he didn't see me or what he was thinking,” said Marsal. “But it meant we got spun around right there. At least we didn’t hit anything and there was a lot of run off room that is all concrete out there so I was able to get going again no problem.”

With that behind him, Marsal was able to close out his impressive triple stint without putting a wheel wrong through three hours of navigating some of the toughest conditions on offer. 

“It was fun out there—it just adds to the challenge to have the track changing all the time like that,” said Marsal. “Even without rain, the surface here is really temperature sensitive so it is always changing and it was even more the case through the afternoon.”

Marsal mastered the conditions well enough to move up to sixth in the GTD class early in his stint and hold strong through all the different challenges, yellow flags, spinning cars, and limited visibility to turn the car over ready for a podium push late in the race. Things were looking like a double-podium Turner Motorsport result as the yellow and blue machines ran second and third with just 13 minutes remaining. 

As the race went back to green, a dash for the checkered flag saw the field racing to the finish and fighting for position all the way down to the checkered flag. The mad dash saw the No. 97 Alvarez & Marsal/IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GT3 come home seventh, while the Turner team car crossed the line in second place. 

“Congratulations to Brett (Curtis), Ashley (Frieberg), and Jens (Klingman) on the podium, that's a great result for Turner Motorsport and for this new BMW M6 GT3,” said Marsal. “The team did a great job in some tough conditions, all through the week. We didn’t have luck on our side right at the end, but it was a good run for us and I think we can keep building on this at Laguna!”

Up next for Marsal and his Turner Motorsport squad will be a return to the sprint format of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as the series heads west for the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round.

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