Acura’s first double victory in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has been “absolutely huge” for the brand according to senior management from Honda Performance Development.
Both the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 of Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves and the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo driven by Mario Farnbacher, Matt McMurry and Shinya Michimi claimed wins in Saturday’s TireRack.com Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
It marked the first overall weekend sweep for the manufacturer in two and a half seasons of multi-class competition and also the first long-distance endurance win for the Acura DPi.
“This is a great day for Acura and HPD, and for all the hardworking associates on our IMSA programs, our excellent drivers and partner teams,” said HPD President Ted Klaus.
“This is also a great reward for [Acura Brand Officer] Jon Ikeda, who has spearheaded the return of Acura to IMSA competition as we prove the brand is the home of Precision Crafted Performance.”
Acura NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger credited quick pit work by the MSR crew as the key to success in GTD.
Farnbacher took over the class lead with 1 hour and 50 minutes to go after getting by the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in pit lane.
“Really I think it was all down to pit stops,” Niffenegger told Sportscar365.
“I don’t think they actually passed anybody on track; I think they passed everybody in the pits. The MSR guys, pit stop-wise, did an awesome job.
“It’s absolutely huge. It’s always more fun in the trailer when everybody gets to enjoy a win. We all work together and it’s really exciting for everybody at Acura.”
Farnbacher, who narrowly missed out on class wins in the last two races at Road America and Virginia International Raceway, said Saturday’s run came as “such a relief” to the MSR team.
“It’s something that we’ve come so close to getting but just couldn’t quite get there,” he said. “The crew really worked their asses off during the pit stops today.
“We were really unlucky during the [season opening] Rolex 24, and we have progressively been working really hard to keep collecting points for the championship.
“Now, to finally get the victory it’s such a good feeling. There’s so many people working behind the scenes, HPD, Acura, MSR, that have all helped us to get here.”