- Trent Hindman, Mario Farnbacher extend championship lead with second-place finish
- Fifth podium result in eight races expands Acura lead in Manufacturers’ Championship
- Tire failure, heavy crash ends run for Katherine Legge and Alice Powell
Acura Motorsports’ run of 2019 podium finishes continued today at Virginia International Raceway, in a GT category-only run for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher extended their GTD championship lead with a second-place result in the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR, their fifth first- or second-place finish this season, also increasing Acura’s lead in the GTD Manufacturers’ Championship after eight of 10 races.
Acura opened its GTD Manufacturers’ Championship lead from two to eight points, now with a 242- 234 margin over nearest competitor Lamborghini. In the GTD Drivers’ Championship, Farnbacher and Hindman increased their points lead from 26 to 37, with 241 points to 204 for closest rival Zach Robichon.
Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo
Starting fourth, opening driver Hindman got the jump at the green flag in his #86 Acura NSX GT3 to start the two-hour, 40-minute race, slotting into second through the first dozen laps, until the first of two full-course cautions in the event.
Pit stop rotations saw Hindman assume the lead from Lap 28 until pitting three laps later and handing the driving duties over to co-driver Mario Farnbacher, who resumed in fourth place. Quick pit work by the Meyer Shank crew at the final stop resulted in the #86 car leading once more. During the final dozen laps, a three-way contest for the GTD victory developed involving Farnbacher, the Mercedes- AMG of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Scott Hargrove’s Porsche.
Although he made a couple of feints at retaking the lead in the final laps, Farnbacher was aware of his championship position and avoided making any high-risk passing attempts. Finishing just over a half second behind GTD winner Bleekemolen, resulted in a 37-point championship lead for Farnbacher and Hindman with just two races remaining.
In the second MSR/Heinricher Racing Acura, 26-year-old Briton Alice Powell made her IMSA race debut from fifth on the starting grid, just behind teammate Hindman. However, her Acura was hit from behind on the opening lap by the BMW of Robby Foley, resulting in an unscheduled pit stop as well as damage to the back of the car that affected its handling for the remainder of the race.
Katherine Legge took over driving duties at the team’s second pit stop, just before the one-hour mark. Her #57 Acura developed a vibration following the team’s final pit stop and on Lap 75 a “sudden, complete” tire failure – according to Michelin tire engineers the result of a foreign object lodged in the suspension – resulted in a hard impact into the trackside barriers in one of the fastest parts of the VIR circuit. Legge escaped serious injury in the crash.
Acura Team Penske and Next Event
IMSA’s Prototype category was not a part of the IMSA weekend at Virginia International Raceway, which featured the GTD and GTLM classes only. The Acura Team Penske ARX-05s will return to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the next race on the schedule, September 15 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
Social media content and video links from this weekend’s Acura Motorsports action at the VIR, and Honda Racing IndyCar Series activities at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis, are available on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD) channels. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, The videos can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
Mario Farnbacher (#86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3) started fourth, finished second; on his late-race battle with Jeroen Bleekemolen for the GTD win: “I was ‘biting my fingernails’, because Jeroen was pretty quick! In the beginning [of their final run to the finish] he had to save fuel and I was able to keep up with him. But he was pretty strong the whole time. I tried to do my best to stay on him and took my chance [at the lead] at one point. But in the end, he was stronger than us. He probably knew that I didn’t want to take a lot of risks [attempting a pass] because we were working for the ‘big one’ [the championship] here and, obviously, today was a very good day for us.”
Katherine Legge (#57 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3) started fifth, did not finish following tire failure, crash on Lap 74: “That was one of the toughest races we have had. We received some damage on the opening lap that broke something in the rear of the car, so we were struggling with a ‘loose’ car the entire race. Alice [Powell] had a fantastic stint [to start the race]. On my second set of tires there was a vibration, then the tire failure, which happened instantly at the top of the ‘esses’. It is one of the places where you carry a lot of speed, so I went into the wall quite hard. That crash is a testament to the strength and safety of the Acura NSX, and VIR’s track safety structures. I have to thank the safety crew for doing a great job to get to me quickly. These things make us stronger, so we will be back ready to fight at Laguna Seca.”
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Michelin GT Challenge at VIR
Circuit: Virginia International Raceway (3.27-mile road course) Alton, Va.
Weather: Cloudy, mild, 78 degrees F
Top Five, Acura GTD Results:
|Ps. Class||Drivers Team Chassis||Laps/Notes|
|1. GTD||Jeroen Bleekemolen / Ben Keating Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG||86 laps|
|2. GTD||Mario Farnbacher / Trent Hindman Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3||+0.566 seconds|
|3. GTD||Toni Vilander / Cooper MacNeil Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3||86 laps|
|4. GTD||Scott Hargrove / Zach Robichon Praff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R||86 laps|
|5. GTD||Pat Long / Patrick Lindsey Park Place Racing Porsche 911 GT3R||86 laps|
|12. GTD||Katherine Legge / Alice Powell Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3||74 laps – crash|