DETROIT - Mario Farnbacher (Germany) and Alex Riberas (Spain) finished fourth in the GTD class of Saturday's Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race weekend at Detroit's Belle Isle Park.
Farnbacher started 10th and promptly drove the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche to seventh by lap 10. That's when the No. 90 Daytona Prototype lost its rear wing, spun and made contact with the Turn 12 tire wall. This accident brought out the race's first of four, full course caution periods.
When the race went green on lap 15, Farnbacher was still seventh. But, heading into Turn One on the restart, the GTD class leading No. 48 Lamborghini went into Turn One too fast and went wide. This forced all the cars behind the No. 48 to check up making it nose-to-tail racing. Farnbacher saw a great opportunity to pass several cars heading into Turn Three and he went for it. He made it three wide in the corner and drove past the No. 63 Ferrari for third.
"[The pass] was set up by the Lamborghini [Bryan Sellers]," Farnbacher said "He almost crashed in Turn One on the restart. I knew I had to get a good run heading into Turn Two down to Turn Three and I was able to get the Porsche down. At first, I chose the inside, but then I thought 'no' because everyone was there. So, I chose the middle lane and it was the right choice to pass all three cars. I was pretty surprised I made it stick to be honest."
On lap 19, the team made a green flag pit stop for fuel, tires and a driver change. Farnbacher, the defending GTD class winner from a year ago, had successfully put the No. 23 machine in contention for its second straight win in as many years.
Now it was up to Riberas to finish the race. Riberas was third early on in his stint, laying down consistent fast laps. The team look poised for a podium finish with about 30 minutes remaining in the race. However, under the race's third caution, Riberas got passed by the No. 63 Ferrari for third. From there, Riberas spent the final 30 minutes trying to make up that position, but ran out of time and finished fourth.
"Mario did a great job getting the car up in the top three," Riberas said. "What an outstanding drive. It was absolutely incredible to watch. I think the entire team was pumped up after his stint. We had a great pit stop. We passed the [No. 63] Ferrari on the pit stop.
"After that [the pit stop], I was handling P3 quite well. I felt like I could keep the Ferrari behind me at that point. During the caution, there was a pass around the safety car, which I didn't get on the radio and that's when the Ferrari passed me. He basically overtook me under yellow. So, we had to settle for P4. I don't think our pace was good enough to fight for the win, but it was definitely good enough to finish in the top three. But, now we look forward to Watkins Glen."
"Mario had a great opening stint," Alex Job, team owner said. "You just don't go three wide and pass three cars at a track like Belle Isle. When Alex got in he was right on pace. We had a mistake under the yellow with our understanding of the pass around and we lost a podium finish."
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next heads to Watkins Glen International June 30 - July 3 for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen.
The Heart of Racing
Founded in 1996, by Don and Donna Kitch, Team Seattle and The Heart of Racing is a group of sports car road racing fans, drivers, and corporate partners making a difference in our community by combining two passions: A love of motorsports and a commitment to Seattle Children's Hospital and pediatric cardiac health care nationally. The team uses the promotion and exposure of the racing program to fund raise and increase awareness of the financial needs for quality pediatric medical care. Since inception, Team Seattle has generated over $5.5 million for their cause. The Heart of Racing accepts donations and pledges for Seattle Children's Hospital at teamseattle.com.
Alex Job Racing
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 70 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won five championships (GTC 2013, 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts ten Sebring 12-hour wins.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD (GT Daytona) Class is made up of some the world's most sophisticated cars, including the Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracan, Aston Martin DB9, BMW M6, Viper SRT and Audi R8 LMS. All GTD Class cars run on the spec Continental tire.