The second of four planned HPD GT3 Driver Academy events took place last week at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with drivers Taylor Hagler, Jacob Abel, Dakota Dickerson and Karl Wittmer taking part in the two-day training session, utilizing the Acura NSX GT3 Evo.
This second Academy event focused on understanding vehicle electronics, and interaction with team engineering personnel.
The Mid-Ohio location, near the Acura Performance Manufacturing Center that produces the NSX production car along with the frame and engine for the NSX GT3 Evo race car, offered a unique opportunity for the drivers to visit the PMC factory prior to commencing events on track.
The NSX, designed with competition in mind, has proven to be a capable foundation for the championship winning NSX GT3 Evo, and its Ohio-built space frame chassis is nearly unmodified for the racing.
Academy drivers could view the chassis being built and met the Acura associates that build (and repair) the racing cars.
“This past week was filled with activities and experiences that you rarely get as a race car driver,” said Abel. “Wednesday evening, we had the chance to pick the brains of some very experienced engineers in Ryan McCarthy and Jim Pattin.
“This was a very informative meeting as drivers typically do not have the opportunity to do this during the hustle and bustle of a race weekend or test.”
Once at the race track, the Academy drivers set sights on gaining knowledge and track time.
The mixed wet and dry conditions over the two days offered ample opportunity to experience the NSX GT3 Evo’s traction control systems and wet weather handling. The four drivers all improved their times throughout the event.
Hagler said: “The weather conditions at Mid-Ohio were fairly rainy, and it allowed me to see how well the Acura NSX GT3 Evo performed in those conditions.
“I also learned a lot about the relationship between engineer and driver; and the best way to effectively communicate about the car. Mario [Farnbacher] and Kyle [Marcelli] were very helpful and gave us great guidance throughout the two days.”
The Academy instructors for this event included two current NSX GT3 Evo drivers and series’ champions: Farnbacher, winner of the IMSA GTD title in 2019; and reigning GT World Challenge America Pro-Am champion Marcelli.
As with the first event at Road Atlanta, one instructor set baseline laps in the race car and assisted with video reviews, while the other provided insight into data analysis and the information it reveals.
In addition, Meyer Shank Racing team engineer Ryan McCarthy was on-hand to explain how proper communication and feedback assist the team in vehicle set up and race strategy.
“It felt great to get back into the Acura NSX GT3 Evo for the second event of the HPD Academy. We got a mix of wet, damp, and dry conditions around a challenging circuit; which was great to experience in such a short time frame, said Dickerson.
“The off-track side of the program has also been invaluable. Working with the Racers Edge Motorsports and Acura Motorsports engineers has certainly added to my knowledge of the technical side of racing.
“I’m really excited to get to the next event to continue our progress!”
The two days focused on a series of vehicle setup adjustments that allowed the drivers to feel what these changes do with the car, and understand how it can benefit in various track conditions and driving styles.
“Mid-Ohio was interesting in terms of the weather, and positive in terms of the progression made as both a team, and a driver. Rain was present throughout most of the testing, which forced us to react quickly while driving, and to really utilize the technology the Acura NSX GT3 EVO has to offer,” said Wittmer.
“It’s incredible how advanced this car is at providing direct feedback to the driver, allowing us to adapt fast to the changing conditions.
“I learned a lot about the car, on and off track, especially in the Engineering and Communications Departments. It was a very positive test week, and I’m definitely looking forward to our next event!”
The GT3 Academy on-track sessions were conducted by Racers Edge Motorsports, which, with drivers Marcelli and Martin Barkey, captured the 2019 GTWC America Pro-Am Drivers’ Championship in the NSX GT3 Evo.