By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor
DETROIT — Mario Farnbacher is a big fan of the Raceway at Belle Isle Park. Two wins in four years will do that for anyone.
“I won here before in 2015, now I’ve done it again,” Farnbacher said. “I’ve always had great memories here. I love the track, and it’s just amazing to be back here. Hopefully this race track will still be in the calendar in the future.”
Farnbacher and Katherine Legge outpaced Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian teammates Justin Marks and Lawson Aschenbach to reach the top step of the GT Daytona (GTD) class podium with a win in Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.
The victory was the first of the year for Acura in GTD, and the first 1-2 result for Meyer Shank Racing in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition.
“Pretty epic, you know?,” Legge said afterward. “We won here last year, and we just repeated it today. We’re right there for the championship now, too. So this couldn’t have gone any better.”
One week before ending up in victory lane, Legge wasn’t sure she would even be on-track in Belle Isle. Her traditional partner Alvaro Parente was unavailable for the event due to prior commitments in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup event as Paul Ricard. The Briton would need a new teammate to share the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 with if she hopes to race in Detroit.
For a time it appeared no partner would come, but in the final week prior to the race Farnbacher was announced as a fill-in.
In the end Farnbacher did much more than just fill in. He took the lead after a set of two-tire stops pushed the Acuras ahead of Madison Snow and the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, and held Aschenbach at bay over the final run to the checkered to secure the victory and a 13th-place overall finish.
“The crew guys did an outstanding job with the pit stop, and that was the key to our success,” Farnbacher said. “Afterward I just had to maintain my position to the end and save fuel.
‘That’s sometimes easier said than done, but I’m pretty happy with the result, and thankful for the trust in me from the team. I got a call to replace Alvaro (Parente) when he had a clash this weekend.”
Aschenbach followed in second to confirm the organization’s 1-2 result.
“We definitely had what I think was a slightly quicker car, but I had to save fuel the whole time,” he said afterward. “Obviously it’s tough to keep up if you’re saving fuel, especially towards the end when you’ve really got to go.
“But overall I’m happy for Mario and Katherine. They drove really well this weekend. They were fast ever since we first stepped on-track, so I’ve gotta say hat’s off to them and everyone at the team.”
Snow followed in third to give himself and Bryan Sellers the final position on the podium. Rounding out the top five were the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, and the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Cooper MacNeil and Jeff Segal.
Next up for IMSA is a trip to New York for the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen at Watkins Glen International – the third leg of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.