By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio— In a near carbon-copy of last year, an Acura NSX GT3 finished behind a Lexus RC F GT3 for the GT Daytona class win in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
On a late race restart, Jack Hawksworth navigated his No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus to the inside of Mario Farnbacher’s No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura for the GTD class lead coming to The Keyhole. After the British racer completed the pass, the fight was on for the class win which came down to a last lap lunge.
Farnbacher wasn’t able to complete the pass and gave MSR its first podium finish of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. Despite provisionally taking the GTD championship lead, team co-owner Michael Shank was not entirely pleased with coming in second place.
“That was our race, we had that race,” said Shank. “I’m really bummed out for all of us. It’s just tough, we got beat on that restart and that was it. We had the dominant car all day today, we had a brilliant strategy, I just don’t like to lose like this but it happens sometimes so we’ll go on to Detroit where we’ve won two in a row.”
Mid-Ohio is Shank’s home race, the team being based in just east of Columbus in Pataskala, Ohio and it is also Acura’s home race, with their factory based in Marysville. Both drivers worked hard to try to give the team their first win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“Big thanks to AutoNation coming on board for this weekend,” said starting driver Trent Hindman. “I think that hot pink probably gave us a couple of tenths per lap so that was nice. It was a big unknown coming into it, right? Not a lot of time in order to get the thing tuned, especially for these conditions, nobody really knew what they were getting into.”
For the most part, practice was held in changing conditions with no session being the same from day to day. Very little dry running was possible so that made getting everything right very difficult.
“The big thing was just managing what you had, communicating with the team about what you needed in order to improve and I think we did just that,” said Hindman. “Again big thanks to the Meyer Shank Racing guys for their strategy, for giving us an excellent car, just a little bit of a bummer we couldn’t come home with a win today but our first podium of the year and I think there’s going to be many more for this team.”
Hindman took advantage of some other GTD chaos on the first lap to advance from ninth to third and took the lead of the race on the race’s ninth lap.
“It was great, it was the best that those two drivers have driven, I mean it was just awesome,” said Shank. “Trent, I can’t say enough about Trent and Christina, she just followed him right up, she got to the back of him and followed him which was awesome.”
“There were just a lot of people making a lot of really bad decisions and we capitalized on that,” said Hindman. “Just stayed calm, cool and collected, stay out of all that crap and luckily it worked out so again I think some folks were getting overly aggressive and it got in their own way and for us we just sat back, let it happen and hell we made up our positions right there so I was happy about that.”
Farnbacher got beat on the late restart and had to figure out how to pursue and overtake quickly in what was his first ever start at Mid-Ohio.
Farnbacher: “I struggled pretty much my first stint to find a good pace, a good line and everything,” said Farnbacher. “The track kept changing all of the time and you need to adapt to it in a weird way which I figured out way too late. We struggled quite a lot with understeer during the stint so I couldn’t rotate the car and somehow in the last lap I could rotate the car finally once how I wanted to, had a good exit and that was my only chance to get a run but he did well, he defended well but there was nothing I could do.”
The next stop for the WeatherTech Championship will be the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the streets of Belle Isle near Detroit on June 1st. It will be a Daytona Prototype International (DPi) and GTD-only race.