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Rolling with the A-Ha Rookie at La Sarthe

In an effort to cover up perceived laziness, we at SCP have changed direction regarding our coverage of the 24 heures du mans. Several stories were already in the can but mostly out of indifference ( see income structures, emotional outbursts, weather reports, Monterey Pop, cash flow and a lack of A-Ha grinds ) we thought it would make for an interesting read as to how things were before it all went down instead of after. I present now exhibit AÖ.

                         Kerry Morse

Cool Britannia                       an expat on Le Mans

ďLe Mans has always been a dream of mine; I suppose Iíve wanted to drive here almost since I first heard of the place.Ē Matthew Marsh, a British expatriate living and working in Hong Kong, is no stranger to long distance racing, having competed for many years in events such as the day-long Nurburgring production car affair and the similar 24-Hour Spa event. He is also a talented sprint competitor as well who won the Porsche Asian Carrera Cup Championship in 2004.

A European Union

Yet, for Marsh Le Mans this weekend is something else, for here on the Sarthe circuit he is a rookie, and perhaps more importantly, a rookie driving a very unfamiliar automobile, a GT2 category Ferrari 430GT entered by the Italian organization GPC Sport SRL. The team is typical of many of the smaller privateers that are a tradition at the 24 hours which generally get lost in the clutter of the headlining prototypes and large GT1 entries. For Marsh, a man with hundreds of hours in Porsche 911s, as well as Formula Fords and other single seaters, none of that matters.

ďEven though itís been my dream, the reality is that it is another, if very important, race, and I have to come to grips with it as I would any other.Ē Coming to grips for the Hong Kong resident has been somewhat complicated by the fact that the GPC camp similarly has been learning about its new Ferrari, and doing it on a track that has been more rain soaked than it has been dry. In addition, Marsh has had to adjust to the very different styles of his teammates Carl Rosenblad of Sweden and Jesus Diaz Villaroel of Spain.

This weekend only, Germany vs. Italy

ĒFor me, the car has too much understeer, which is particularly evident exiting the corners. However, I must say also that it is far easier to drive than the 911. It is certainly which lighter in terms of its steering effort, and much nicer to go through the gears. Of course, since I have so much time in Porsches, Iíve gotten quite used to them, and I really donít think about their less favorable characteristics as much as I might if it were my first time in a 911. I believe that once we get the car sorted for the race itself, it will be fine.Ē

In fact, asked if he thought running in the rain, which has been forecast for this yearís 24 hours, might make things more simple him, as many other drivers in like situations with a new car, Marsh replied in the negative. ďFor me, I find it easier to take a car to the edge on dry pavement than I do trying to drive it to the limit in the wet. It isnít a matter of not liking rain, itís just thatís itís different, and therefore changes your mind set.Ē

Interestingly, where many Le Mans newcomers have true problems at night, Marsh doesnít. ďI really like it in the dark. Last week at the Nurburgring, where one of my co-drivers got involved in an accident early on, and we had to repair the car, we wound up with really terrible lighting. I guess it was just the fact that being me, and sometimes having a different attitude towards things, it didnít bother me at all, so I donít believe Iíll have and trouble here.Ē

Us and ThemÖ

Understandably, few other than the team and its sponsors will be paying much attention to Marsh and his Ferrari, their focus being elsewhere on the expected titanic battle between the Audi and Peugeot diesels, and the counterpart war between the Corvettes and Aston Martins in GT1. Still, without people such as Marsh and their enthusiasm for the classic long distance race, Le Mans most likely would not continue to exist, much less prosper, which is why in the end they are as important as the high dollar teams up front.

                                                                         Bill Oursler
                                                                         June 2007

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Features on or from Guests

No. Class Team Drivers Car Sponsors
0 DP Tuttle Team Racing Brian Tuttle, West Palm Beach, FL; Jonathan Cochet, France BMW Riley Tuttle Team Racing
01 DP CompUSA Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Scott Pruett, Auburn, CA; Luis Diaz, Mexico City, Mexico Lexus Riley CompUSA
3 DP Southard Motorsports Shane Lewis, Jupiter, FL; BMW Riley Southard Motorsports
4 DP Howard - Boss Motorsports Andy Wallace, England; Butch Leitzinger, Rebersburg, PA Pontiac Crawford The Boss Snowplow
04 GT Sigalsport BMW Gene Sigal, Los Angeles, CA; Peter MacLeod, Bellevue, WA BMW M3 Motul/ enVista/ OMP
5 DP Essex Racing Rob Finlay, Charlotte, NC; Michael Valiante, Vancouver, BC Canada Ford Crawford Make A Wish/ Z-Line Designs/ Finlay Motorsports
05 GT Sigalsport BMW Matthew Alhadeff, Los Angeles, CA; Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, CA BMW M3 Alhadeff Motorsports/ Motul/ enVista
6 DP Michael Shank Racing/ Mears Motor Coach Mike Borkowski, Miami Beach, FL; Antoine Bessette, St Bruno, QC Canada Lexus Riley Michael Shank Racing/
7 DP Tuttle Team Racing Brian Tuttle, West Palm Beach, FL; Jonathan Cochet, France Pontiac Riley Tuttle Team Racing
8 DP Synergy Racing Burt Frisselle, Kihei, HI; Brian Frisselle, Kihei, HI Porsche Doran GlycoMax
09 DP Spirit of Daytona Racing Doug Goad, West Bloomfield, MI; Larry Oberto, Seattle, WA Pontiac Crawford Spirit of Daytona Racing
10 DP SunTrust Racing Wayne Taylor, Apopka, FL; Max Angelelli, Italy; Jan Magnussen, Denmark Pontiac Riley SunTrust
11 DP CITGO Racing by SAMAX Milka Duno, Venezuela; Marc Goossens, Belgium Pontiac Riley CITGO
12 DP Lowe's Fernandez Racing Adrian Fernandez, Mexico City, Mexico; Mario Haberfeld, Brazil Pontiac Riley Lowe's
14 GT Autometrics Motorsports Cory Friedman, Charleston, SC; Gordon Friedman, Charleston, SC Porsche GT3 Cup Mill And Textile Supply/ Mac Papers
17 GT SAMAX Robert Bell, England; Porsche GT3 Cup SAMAX
19 DP Playboy/ Uniden Racing Guy Cosmo, West Palm Beach, FL; Michael McDowell, Monroe, NC Ford Crawford Playboy/ Uniden/ Palms
21 GT Matt Connolly Motorsports Jeff Altenburg, Ellicott City, MD; John Angelone, Bridgewater, NJ; Matt Connolly, Bethlehem, PA BMW M3 23 DP Alex Job Racing/ Emory Motorsports Mike Rockenfeller, Monaco; Patrick Long, Las Vegas, NV Porsche Crawford Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team
24 GT Matt Connolly Motorsports Bill Cotter, Seattle, WA; Todd Hanson, Atlanta, GA BMW M3 Matt Connolly Motorsports
31 DP Team Cytosport Greg Pickett, Benicia, CA; Scott Sharp, Tequesta, FL Pontiac Riley XCYTO Energy Drink
38 GT Bernheim Racing Steve Bernheim, Beverly Hills, CA; Dwain Dement, Laguna Hills, CA Porsche GT3 Cup
39 DP Crown Royal Special Reserve/ Cheever Christian Fittipaldi, Brazil; Eddie Cheever Jr, Orlando, FL Porsche Crawford Crown Royal Special Reserve
40 DP Derhaag Motorsports Chris Bingham, Clyde Hill, WA; Randy Ruhlman, Greensboro, NC Pontiac Riley PLP/ Preformed Line Products/ Coyote Closures
41 GT Team Sahlen Eric Lux, Amherst, NY; Charles Espenlaub, Lutz, FL Porsche GT3 Cup Rembrandt Charms/ HRPworld/ GOJO/ Hawk
47 DP TruSpeed Motorsports Charles Morgan, Little Rock, AR; Rob Morgan, Ladera Ranch, CA Porsche Riley Querencia Golf Club/ Wright Motorsports
50 DP Rocketsports Racing Paul Gentilozzi, Lansing, MI; Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, CA Ford Crawford X-MEN 3 The Last Stand the Movie
56 GT Beachman Racing Bruce Beachman, Woodinville, WA; Rick Delamare, Snohemish, WA Corvette Beachman Racing/ Sunset Chevrolet
57 GT Stevenson Motorsports Tommy Riggins, Jacksonville, FL; Vic Rice, San Rafael, CA; John Stevenson, Swansboro, NC Corvette Stevenson Automotive
58 DP Red Bull/ Brumos Porsche David Donohue, Westchester, PA; Darren Law, Phoenix, AZ Porsche Fabcar Red Bull/ Brumos Porsche
59 DP Brumos Racing Hurley Haywood, Ponte Vedra, FL; JC France, Ormond Beach, FL Porsche Fabcar Brumos Porsche
60 DP Michael Shank Racing Mark Patterson, Bronxville, NY; Oswaldo Negri, Aventura, FL Lexus Riley Flight Options/ Nett App Lexus Riley
64 GT TRG Paul Edwards, Nipomo, CA; Kelly Collins, Newport Beach, CA Pontiac GTO.R TRG
65 GT TRG Marc Bunting, Monkton, MD; Andy Lally, Dacula, GA; RJ Valentine, Braintree, MA Pontiac GTO.R TRG/ F1 Air
70 GT SpeedSource David Haskell, Plantation, FL; Sylvain Tremblay, Coral Springs, FL Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed Motorsports/ Mazda USA
71 GT SAMAX/ Doncaster Racing Greg Wilkins, Toronto, ON Canada; Dave Lacey, Toronto, ON Canada Porsche GT3 Cup Minestar Solutions/ Tim Hortons72 GT Tafel Racing Robin Liddell, England; Wolf Henzler, Germany Porsche GT3 Cup NEC
73 GT Tafel Racing Jim Tafel, Alpharetta, GA; Andrew Davis, Bogart, GA Porsche GT3 Cup NEC
75 DP Krohn Racing Tracy Krohn, Houston, TX; Nic Jonsson, Sweden Ford Riley Krohn Racing
76 DP Krohn Racing Jorg Bergmeister, Germany; Colin Braun, Ovalo, TX Ford Riley Krohn Racing
77 DP Feeds The Need/ Doran Racing Terry Borcheller, Gainesville, GA; Harrison Brix, Campbell, CA Ford Doran Kodak/ Amp'd Mobile/ Sirius
80 GT Shoes for Crews/ Synergy Racing David Murry, Cumming, GA; Leh Keen, Dublin, GA Porsche GT3 Cup Shoes for Crews/ Synergy Racing
81 GT Synergy Racing Steve Johnson, Bristol, VA; Robert Nearn, England Porsche GT3 Cup Comfort Systems USA/ Johnson Commercial Development
89 DP Pacific Coast Motorsports Alex Figge, Vail, CO; Ryan Dalziel, Orlando, FL Pontiac Riley Playboy/ Vonage/ Palms Casino
97 DP CyberSpeed Racing Tony Ave, Mooresville, NC; Skip Cummins, Houston, TX Pontiac Riley CyberSpeed Racing
98 GT Pacific Coast Motorsports David Empringham, Toronto, ON Canada; Ross Thompson, Phoenix, AZ Pontiac GTO.R Pacific Coast Motorsports
99 DP Gainsco/ Blackhawk Racing Jon Fogarty, Portola Valley, CA; Alex Gurney, Irvine, CA Pontiac Riley Gainsco Auto Insurance