It was a full throttle sprint to the finish for Mario Farnbacher on Saturday, as he took the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 from fourth to second in the final five laps of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR. Farnbacher was relentless in his pursuit of the fabled VIR Michelin Man trophy, optimizing every opportunity to move froward late in the race to claim a runner-up result for the second IMSA race in a row.
The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR was the start to a big race weekend for Meyer Shank Racing as the team will make its fourth Indianapolis 500 start on Sunday. The two hour and 40-minute IMSA race was not short of excitement for Meyer Shank Racing drivers Matt McMurry and Farnbacher.
Starting with the opening stint, McMurry showed that he came to win. A strong start saw McMurry move from fourth to second after the first corner. The pursuit to the front didn’t end there as McMurry continued to fight for the lead up until his first pit stop on Lap 19.
McMurry fought for the lead for 22 laps during his hour and 40-minute double stint. Once “Super Mario” Farnbacher took the controls, he wasted no time putting the pressure on the lead car, attaching his front bumper to the rear of the BMW.
Farnbacher made an attempt for the lead on Lap 59 but unfortunately locked up the front brakes and fell back to fourth. With his full focus ahead, Farnbacher showed his challenging spirit as he set times that were considerably quicker than he had done earlier in his stint to lock onto the tail end of the now three car train fighting for second.
An unbelievable pass around the outside leading onto the back straight moved Farnbacher to third. Farnbacher wasn’t going to settle, and used GTLM traffic to his advantage to make the pass for second on the final lap. Not only making two highlight passes of the race, Farnbacher also posted the fastest GTD lap time of 1:45.446-seconds.
The runner-up result also provisionally moved Farnbacher and McMurry into the GTD championship lead as well as Acura into the provisional Manufacturer championship lead.
IMSA will return to competition in just three weeks as the series heads to Road Atlanta for the rescheduled six hour event on September 4-6.
“Both Matt and Mario did an exceptional job today. Matt had one of his best stints of the year and he really put it all out there to fight for the lead early on which set up Mario in a great position for his stint. We had a little bobble there, but Mario never gave up the fight and he did what he needed to do to get that second place finish. We are now provisionally in the championship lead. It’s still a close fight so we really need to focus on being consistent these next few races.”
“It’s great to get another podium. It’s not quite the win that we wanted but we got a lot of points this weekend and should now be in the championship lead. Everyone did an awesome job, strategy and pit stops were perfect today. Mario did some crazy laps and made some crazy passes to claw his way back up to second. Next up is Road Atlanta which is one of my favorite tracks.”
“Matt was super strong this weekend and that was actually the base for our success today. He improved quite a lot during the weekend which was really nice to see how he has developed. He really didn’t make any mistakes so I am really proud of him. Also super happy with the team, they made great strategy calls especially during the first yellow to keep Matt out there. Unfortunately I locked up when I was behind (Bill) Auberlen so I had to push after that. There were some really awesome fights and really close battles with both Lawson (Aschenbach) and Bryan Sellers. I’m happy to be back on the podium, but somehow, at VIR I never stand at the top. Overall it was really good points which is why we are now provisional championship leaders. Hopefully we can maintain that through the next few races.”
Source. Sunday Group