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Farnbacher: Watkins Glen a “Learning Game” for Acura

Mario Farnbacher has plenty to learn in his first PWC race weekend…

Photo: Brian Cleary/PWC

Mario Farnbacher says every lap on track has helped get the HART operation up to speed as both he and the team make the jump into Pirelli World Challenge competition.

The Ohio-based team, which is running in conjunction with Meyer Shank Racing and RealTime Racing at Watkins Glen, was a surprise entrant for this weekend’s season finale in Upstate New York.

It marks the first appearance of the Acura NSX GT3 in the series this year after RealTime ran a pair of the cars full-time in 2017.

Farnbacher, who has driven in three IMSA races in an Acura for MSR this year, including a class win at Detroit, says he’s had plenty to learn despite his experience in the car, starting with the Pirelli tires.

“It’s a big difference,” Farnbacher told Sportscar365. “This tire, the sidewall is very soft so you can definitely feel it driving out on cold tires.

“The car takes curbs really well. Overall, Pirelli has a very good tire here in this series so we just need to understand the tire more and what the tire likes. All the mileage helps us.

“For us, it’s a little bit of a learning game because we haven’t driven with this tire before.

“Each session, each mile on the track helps us to understand how the car works on this tire. It’s progressing.”

While he has never raced in PWC previously, Farnbacher said he as followed the championship from afar and was intrigued by the chance to tailor the car specifically to his needs.

“I knew a couple of things [about PWC]: they have a strong field here with really good drivers, and short races at 50 minutes,” he said.

“I usually drove in Europe, in the ADAC [GT Masters] championship for example, a one hour race but with two drivers.

“It’s a bit of a different thing but I like it so far. You can focus on yourself preparing the setup of the car and focus it to you and your driving style.

“I’m glad to be here, it’s my first time in World Challenge, and I like it so far. You don’t often have a chance to drive a GT3 car on your own so it’s really fun.”

Farnbacher indicated he hoped this weekend could lead to more opportunities within Honda’s racing operation, noting the family atmosphere of the brand that is exemplified by having three Acura teams combining their efforts to be on the grid at Watkins Glen.

“Honda and HPD came to me and asked if I had any interest and I obviously said yes,” he said. “It was in between Lime Rock and VIR that they decided to do this race, and here we are!

“It’s quite funny, it’s a little bit from everybody. Michael Shank is involved in it on the engineering side, HART has the truck and the crew guys, and RealTime is also supporting us as well.

“It’s quite funny to have everyone involved and we’re cooking soup all together. It’s really exciting. It’s a huge family here.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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