Jacob Abel says his experience driving an Acura NSX GT3 Evo in IMSA competition last weekend will help him get up to speed quicker in this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS round at Watkins Glen with Racers Edge Motorsports.
The 20-year-old HPD GT3 Academy graduate was drafted in at the last minute as a substitute driver in Compass Racing’s Acura at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, teaming up with HPD factory driver Mario Farnbacher in making his WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut.
Despite having been taken out of the race in an opening-lap accident, Abel said he had a number of positive takeaways from the weekend that will benefit him in his third event of the season with Racers Edge and co-driver Taylor Hagler.
“Racing at Laguna Seca for the short distance that it was, just getting all of the track time in practice and qualifying was really, really helpful,” Abel told Sportscar365.
“Driving this car, there’s always a little bit of a learning curve going back and forth between this and the open-wheel car.
“It always takes that first little bit of track time to get me acclimated again.
“We don’t get that much extra track time in [GTWC America], especially with two drivers. It’s really good to have that initial ‘taking the rust off’ before I get out there.
“As I’ve come off a weekend of doing just that last weekend, it’s not so much re-learning the car again.
“Now it’s just going to be about learning the car on this track and this tire. It should be really good.
“This is the first time I’ve driven a GT3 car in back-to-back weekends ever in my career, so it’s going to be nice to have that consistency and have a little bit of momentum to build on.”
Abel, who competes full-time in Indy Pro 2000 competition, said the transition between the single-seater and the Acura NSX GT3 Evo has offered its share of challenges this year.
“Open-wheel cars don’t have ABS and braking is probably one of the most important thing of driving a race car,” he said. “It changes a lot going into an ABS car back and forth.
“Learning to drive the car in the high speeds… They have similar amounts of downforce and similar amounts of grip in high speed but when you do have that catch in a sports car, it’s a lot bigger because you’re moving around a lot more weight.
“It’s going to be really nice to go back-to-back in one.”
The Jon Mirachi-led Racers Edge squad enters Watkins Glen on the heels of its first Pro-Am class victory of the season last time out at Road America, with Hagler and co-driver Dakota Dickerson in Race 1.
Dickerson and Abel have been sharing co-driving duties alongside full-season driver Hagler, who sits second in the Pro-Am points standings.
“It was awesome,” said Abel on seeing the team claim its first win of the season.
“We’ve known the team has been capable of doing it. We’ve had a little bit of misfortune throughout the year.
“I was super, super happy to see them get their first win. Hopefully we can get a couple more this weekend.”
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report