You know the last name. This is the other racer from Scotland's contribution to American motorsport. Marino is young, enthusiastic, driven and, to top it all, has kept a vivid sense of humor. After learning that the second-place Acura had been disqualified, he told me he was going over to their truck to trade his third-place trophy for theirs. Now that's a racer.
ec: Let's start with the most obvious topic, the major differences between your ride last year in an Acura-powered LMP2 to this season's Porsche RS Spyder. And don't get all politically correct on us.
MF: I'm going to have to, I'm afraid. It's not right to compare two cars that are very different this year--in the case of the Acura, completely. It wouldn't be a valid comparison.
ec: The Porsche must feel more like a complete car, as the tub, driveline and motor are all from one place. Does that translate into a more secure feeling as far as driveability?
MF: I think you're underestimating the job Acura has done and what they've achieved with a chassis that isn't their own. They'll be formidable opponents this season, especially at certain types of tracks. Porsche is amazing at providing a customer team like Dyson, not only with a complete and refined package in order to go racing, but also support that makes you feel like a true partner. It really is the benchmark, I guess that's why so many other marques' customer programs follow the lines of Porsche so closely.
ec: You appeared more confident in the Porsche at Sebring than in most of your drives last year in the Acura. Is that simply getting a season under you in the LMP2 class?
MF: I certainly didn't feel that way. Last season, I started every race in which I competed in the Acura and, mechanical issues aside, I came into the pits in the top three in nearly every race. There were some mishaps, but I used them as positives and learned from every good and bad experience. Some starts last season showed the confidence I had. Or at least I hope they did. Of course, the experience gained last year also helped to improve me hugely as a driver. I had never before been part of the development of a car from the word go, through to it being a race winner. Technically, I grew and learned a huge amount.
ec: Last year, you had a great drive going at St. Pete and then had a coming-together with another prototype, which didn't appear to be your doing. How do you make the adjustment from a proper circuit with a runoff area to the temporary walls of a street track? This has to play a major part on how you attempt a pass.
MF: I was taken out by a car attempting a pass that was hugely optimistic, to say the least. The fact that his team boss apologized to me at the next race says it all. For me, I love the challenge of street circuits where any mistake is severely punished. I think if you're only `attempting' a pass, then you shouldn't be making it in the first place. But passes happen differently on street tracks. You need to be sure you can make the pass cleanly and be ahead by corner exit, as there is rarely room for two cars later in the turn on street tracks.