Mario Farnbacher says he’s taking a “bit of a different approach” into his new drive with Compass Racing as the two-time and reigning overall GT Daytona class champion sets his sights on the WeatherTech Sprint Cup championship this year.
The Honda Performance Development-contracted driver is teaming up with Jeff Kingsley in Compass’ No. 76 Acura NSX GT3 Evo for the eight-race campaign that kicks off with this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge presented by TLX Type S at Mid-Ohio.
While having come on the heels of GTD titles with Trent Hindman and Matt McMurry with Meyer Shank Racing in 2019 and 2020, respectively, the German has never won the Sprint Cup portion of the WeatherTech Championship season before.
“Winning championships is always the goal,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s something new for me for sure. Because it’s a different format and a different perspective.
“When you drive the whole championship, you have the whole picture in mind whereas here you just focus on the sprint stuff.
“It’s a little bit of a different approach because you need to be more aggressive the whole time. It’s fun. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Farnbacher kicked off his IMSA season with fellow Acura customer Magnus Racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in what was a one-off drive due to his Gold driver rating.
His program with the Jill Beck and Karl Thomson-led Compass squad came together at the “last minute” according to Thomson, which has led to the team not having the time for any pre-season testing.
The 29-year-old, however, believes he can bing his previous knowledge and success with the car to the California-based team, which so far has limited experience with two outings in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS this year.
“I’m driving the car into the fourth season now, so I definitely have experience with the car and the tire,” Farnbacher said.
“This year we just have the hard [Michelin] compound, which I actually prefer compared to the soft compound.
“I think the harder compound suits our car better because we can push all the way through.
“With this car you need to push to be quick.
“I’m looking forward to the program. It’s definitely a learning process and different environment but I think nothing is impossible.”
Thomson said Farnbacher’s knowledge, as well as the pool of data received from MSR, will help get the team quickly up to speed with the Acura this weekend despite the limited available track time.
As was the case at some sprint events last year, WeatherTech Championship competitors have only two practice sessions instead of the typical three on a weekend.
“The information sharing — particularly all of the resources we have from the past few years with Shank in terms of data, video and the learning there — is huge,” Thomson told Sportscar365.
“Plus Mario has been there for all of that and two championships. I think that makes up a lot for lack of testing time.
“It’s not like we’re unfamiliar with the Michelins. We ran with them for two years [with the McLaren 720S GT3].
“This car, in general, is super kind on its tires.
“We’ll see on the Michelins but knowing how the McLaren was on the Michelins and seeing how this car has been [on Pirellis] in the two SRO America races, it’s a much kinder platform.”