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The Heart of Racing drivers Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Ian James (Phoenix) and Alex Riberas (Spain) finished seventh in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTD class in today’s rain-shortened Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.team seattle petit r

Under wet, rainy conditions, Farnbacher took the green flag from ninth on the GTD grid. He drove the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche up to sixth during his first stint, while light rain continued to fall on the 18th Petit Le Mans.

On lap 35, Farnbacher brought the Alex Job Racing-prepared Porsche to pit lane for tires, fuel and a driver change. At that point, Farnbacher radioed the crew about a brake issue. During the stop, the crew checked the brake fluid and sent James back onto the 12-turn undulating circuit in sixth.

Early in James’ stint, he ran as high as fifth and had to persevere through lousy track conditions. In fact, IMSA called a full course caution because the track conditions deteriorated so much. James put in 31 laps before handing the controls over to Riberas under yellow.

“The conditions continued to change,” James said of his stint in the car. “The rain was pretty hard to start with and then it dried off a little bit – ‘dried off’ is a little bit of an overstatement. There was a lot of sliding around. But, the biggest problem was we had a few little problems with the brakes and visibility.”

Riberas started his stint sixth when the race went green. But, just as his stint started, the race went yellow three more times. In fact, he spent most of his stint under yellow due to several cars going off course as it continued to rain harder. During his stint, he had the No. 23 Porsche up to fourth and turned the team’s fastest lap of the race on lap 116 with a 1:38.570.

“It was very hard to drive,” Riberas said. “The visibility was quite poor. That was the toughest part.”

On lap 128, Riberas came to pit lane for fuel and a driver change. That is when Farnbacher got back in and was seventh to start his second stint. He put in 33 laps before IMSA race director Beaux Barfield red flagged the race due to weather on lap 162.

The race went green on lap 166. From there, Farnbacher had to deal with two more cautions, poor visibility and an ongoing brake problem that saw him lose four to five seconds per lap before IMSA called the race on lap 199.

“We had nothing today,” Farnbacher said. “The setup was a little off to be honest. The weekend started bad and finished bad. Since the first practice, we had brake issues. In the race, it was still a big issue. I lost a lot of confidence because of it. Besides that, I couldn’t see anything on the track – especially when you lose the fan for the windscreen. I drove a few laps totally blind. It was a tough day.”

With today’s seventh place finish, Farnbacher and James finished fourth in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTD class driver’s championship.

“We had a great year,” James said. “I think we did the best we could with what we had and we’re really looking forward to next year. This is year two for this program. Obviously, the sister car is a bit more established. We came out strong [to start the season]. At Sebring, we showed everybody what we’re made of. We had another win at Detroit. It’s been a really strong bonding year. I don’t think there’s a stronger team in the paddock than the No. 23 car. It’s really great having Alex [Riberas] come here for the longer races. The three of us get along really well. Everybody gives 110 percent the whole time. We’re very thankful to Gabe Newell who makes it all possible.”

“The team did a fantastic job to keep the car running,” Riberas said. “Even though we faced some difficulties, we stayed together. We kept fighting. In the end, we did our best. It was a shame the race was stopped. I think we can be proud of the job we did and come back stronger next year.”

“A really tough day for Mario, Ian and Alex,” Alex Job, team owner said. “We battled a brake issue all day. The guys had to pump the brakes going into every turn, so that affected the speed of the car. Add in the rain to that issue and it was a difficult day behind the wheel. We had a successful season posting two wins, with one of those our tenth at Sebring.”

The series will transition in name to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for 2016. The next official event will be a test at Daytona International Speedway November 17-18. The team will debut the all new Porsche 911 GT3 car at the test.

Team Seattle is accepting donations and pledges for Seattle Children’s Hospital at teamseattle.com.

Source. Kyle Chura/Alex Job Racing


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