Kyle Marcelli is set to join Martin Barkey in a Racers Edge Motorsports-entered Acura NSX GT3 Evo for an assault on the Blancpain GT World Challenge America Pro-Am class championship this year.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Marcelli details how the program came together, his impressions of the Acura, his goals for the season, and more.
What was the process of putting your deal together with Racers Edge Motorsports like?
“I’ve had a relationship with Martin Barkey for several years dating back to 2012 and we’ve remained close.
“His MBRP Performance Exhaust was previously a sponsor and it turned into me do a bit of co-driving with him in another series.
“We’ve remained friends the last few years while he did his thing and I did mine. Last fall, he and I went out for dinner and he said he was hanging up the helmet. He was a bit saddened by it but he felt it was the time.
“Well, fast forward a few months and an opportunity came across his plate with the Acura and he asked if that was something that I would be interested in. It came together pretty quickly.”
What do you know about the car at this point?
“I have tested it. Like I said, the deal came together pretty quickly. The team just got the car five weeks ago at the most, it was certainly just after Daytona that we got it.
“We immediately scheduled a quick shakedown test at Roebling Road, and that happened about three weeks ago.
“That was my first chance to drive the car. Martin was there as well and he drove the car. It was the first time for the team to get their hands on it and figure out what it’s about.
“It was a really productive two days. I was really impressed with the structure of the team. The two days ran perfectly, and I was impressed with the NSX.
“We had no mechanical flaws over the two days and we were able to work through a number of procedural things and a number of setup items to see what does what on the car.
“It’s a really fun car to drive. It reminded me most of my time in the Ferrari, actually.”
Had you talked with Martin in the years since you last drove together about a project like this?
“Not really. I was doing my thing and he was doing his. He did say to me about a year ago when we were out for lunch one day that if the opportunity ever came up to work together again he’d really like that.
“I guess the stars just aligned on this one. Thankfully there’s no conflicts with my other racing programs which made this possible.”
What do you think about the state of the series and the level of competition you expect this year?
“I don’t know enough about all of the changes, but everything I do know seems very positive. I like the longer format races, the 90 minutes.
“Sixty as it was previously was almost too short. Ninety minutes is a nice length. I like that there’s a full-service pit stop.
“It does bring the team element back into it. There won’t necessarily be a lot of strategy, it will still be sprint race mentality.
“We’re not going to have to worry about fuel consumption. I do like the format. I like the unification with what the SRO is doing in Europe.
“It’s obviously working for them over there. And in terms of the class structure, Pro-Am seems to be the global formula now for GT3 racing. There’s really very few Pro-Pro efforts anymore.
“I don’t expect it to be easy. There’s a number of strong teams and driver lineups that have been announced and the more the merrier. It’s great for the sport.”
What goals do you have for yourself and for the team this year?
“I did say to Martin that I’m at a point in my career where it’s not just a job, I’m very much focussed on furthering my career. The absolute goal for me is to be aligned with a brand, with a manufacturer.
“Until that day, I need to position myself in programs that can win, programs in which I can show my potential with the right team, the right car, the right co-driver.
“You need the whole package. It’s a long winded version of just saying I expect to be competitive.
“I made that clear to the team and to Martin that I’m doing this because I think we can be competitive.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I think a succesful year would be to be on the podium, win some races, and to be a contender for the class championship.”