News Release, Honda News
- #7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 recovers from two-lap deficit to finish fourth
- Both Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo’s contend for GTD victory, but are hampered by late-race issues
- GTD pole qualifier Trent Hindman stars in wet weather run
Early-race difficulties for Acura Team Penske and late-race issues for Meyer Shank Racing led to a disappointing day for the two Acura teams at Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The #7 Acura Team Penske prototype of Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi finished fourth to lead the way for Acura after a 12-hour endurance contest that ran under wildly differing weather conditions on the historic central Florida road course.
The second round of the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship began behind the Safety Car after steady early morning rains drenched the 3.7-mile former airport circuit. But once the green flag flew at the 40-minute mark, the racing was remarkably clean, with only two additional caution flags displayed through the first nine and a half hours of fierce competition.
However, two late-race cautions in the final 90 minutes had the double-edged effect of providing opportunity for Acura Team Penske, while at the same time contributing to the end of Meyer Shank Racing’s hopes for a GTD class victory or podium.
Acura Team Penske
Although the #6 Acura ARX-05 of Dane Cameron started from the pole, both he and third-starting teammate Castroneves struggled in the wet, treacherous conditions during the opening hours.
In the second hour, a spin by Taylor in the #7 ARX-05 – and resulting pit stop to re-secure his seat belts – dropped the Acura two laps off the pace of the leader.
The #6 Acura of Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud also made several unscheduled stops, the first to replace the steering wheel/shift paddle assembly, followed by two more stops for electronic issues. The trio would continue on to the finish ninth, nine laps down to the leaders.
The pace of the #7 ARX-05 improved as the circuit dried throughout the afternoon hours, and the team regained one of its lost laps when the caution flag was displayed for the second time at the two hour, 30-minute mark. The fourth caution of the race, which came out with barely more than two hours remaining, saw Taylor regain the lead lap. With Rossi taking over for the final stint, the #7 Acura held on to fourth place at the checkers.
Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo
Starting from the GTD pole in his #86 NSX GT3 Evo, Hindman was the star of the opening 90 minutes on a soaked track, building a class lead of nearly 30 seconds in the 17-car GTD field before handing off to co-driver Justin Marks.
Starting sixth in the #57 Acura, Christina Nielsen was also impressive, gaining three positions in the opening laps of green-flag racing, and completing a race-opening double stint before handing off the driving duties to Bia Figueiredo.
Both Meyer Shank Acuras continued to run in the thick of the multi-car GTD battle throughout the afternoon hours and as dusk gave way to evening, both Mario Farnbacher in the #86 and Katherine Legge in the #93 took turns at the GTD lead.
However, the #86 was penalized for driving over pit equipment after the team’s last pit stop in the final hour, dropping Farnbacher to eighth; and the final pit stop exchange also saw Legge shuffled back to fifth. Then, when the green flag waved once again with fewer than 10 minutes remaining after a brief late-race caution, multi-car contact saw both MSR Acuras go briefly off track, with Farnbacher recovering to finish seventh, and Legge eighth.
With 36 hours of racing in Florida – including January’s Rolex 24 – now complete, the prototype category of the 2018 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship moves to the West Coast for the April 13 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, with the full series converging at Mid-Ohio in May for the Acura Sports Car Challenge.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Rolex 24 endurance race at Daytona International Speedway are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the HPD Trackside Video Playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.
Steve Eriksen (Vice President and COO, Honda Performance Development) on this weekend’s Twelve Hours of Sebring: “In the end, three of the four Acuras were on the lead lap in the closing minutes, after almost 12 hours of fierce racing, and fighting for a podium finish. We didn’t quite have the speed to challenge for the win in DPi, but Acura Team Penske and the #7 Acura ARX-05 group made the best of things as they unfolded. On the GTD side, the Acura NSX GT3 Evo kit demonstrated its effectiveness in all conditions: wet, dry, warm and cool. The Meyer Shank Racing team definitely has pace to win today. Looking ahead, we have two Acura-sponsored races coming up [the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in April and the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio in May], and we’ll be looking for good things in front of our hometown crowds at these events.”
Ricky Taylor (driver, #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05) finished fourth: “Really, I think, a satisfying end to the day, considering we were two laps down for the first couple of hours. The way the team fought back was fantastic. They never gave up, and we got on the lead lap there at the end. We didn’t quite have the pace of the leaders, and I think with some luck we could’ve gotten a podium [top three] finish, but fourth is really good points for the championship. I think we can now head into the ‘sprint race’ part of the year and really push hard.”
Trent Hindman (driver, #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo) led GTD, finished 7th: “I just first of all want to thank the Meyer Shank Racing team, Acura and HPD. We had a really phenomenal car, all day. Whether it was hot and wet, dry and hot, dry and cold, or wet and cold, the car was awesome. I’m just really proud to be a part of this team; really proud to share the [driving] with Justin Marks and Mario Farnbacher. I’m learning a lot from them. Overall, though, it just wasn’t our day. I think we were in the lead quite often, and the car was very strong running out front in clean air. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing here and our luck will turn around.”
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Circuit: Sebring International Speedway, Sebring, FL
Weather: Cloudy, mild, morning rain, including opening hour of the race, average 72 degrees F
Top Five, Acura Prototype Results:
|1.||Prototype||Felipe Nasr / Pipo Derani / Eric Curran||Action Express||Cadillac DPi VR||348 laps|
|2.||Prototype||Jordan Taylor / Renger Van De Zande / Matthieu Vaziviere||Wayne Taylor Racing||Cadillac DPi VR||+1.030 seconds|
|3.||Prototype||Joao Barbosa / Felipe Albuquerque / Brendon Hartley||Action Express||Cadillac DPi VR||348 laps|
|4.||Prototype||Helio Castroneves / Ricky Taylor /Alexander Rossi||Acura Team Penske||Acura ARX-05||348 laps|
|5.||Prototype||Colin Braun / Jonathan Bennett / Romain Dumas||CORE Autosport||Nissan JSP217||347 laps|
|9.||Prototype||Juan Pablo Montoya / Dane Cameron / Simon Pagenaud||Acura Team Penske||Acura ARX-05||339 laps|
Top Five, Acura GTD Results:
|1.||GTD||Mirko Bortolotti / Rolf Ineichen / Rik Breukers||Grasser Racing Team||Lamborghini Huracan||320 laps|
|2.||GTD||Andy Lally / John Potter / Spencer Pumpelly||Magnus Racing||Lamborghini Huracan||+2.724 seconds|
|3.||GTD||Toni Villander / Cooper MacNeil / Jeff Westphal||Scuderia Corsa||Ferrari 488 GT3||320 laps|
|4.||GTD||Daniel Morad / Christopher Mies / Ricky Feller||Montaplast by Land Motorsport||Audi R8 LMS GT3||320 laps|
|5.||GTD||Jeroen Bleekemolen / Ben Keating / Felipe Fraga||Riley Motorsports||Mercedes-AMG GT3||320 laps|
|7.||GTD||Mario Farnbacher / Trent Hindman / Justin Marks||Meyer Shank Racing||Acura NSX GT3 Evo||320 laps|
|8.||GTD||Katherine Legge / Bia Figueiredo / Christina Nielsen||Meyer Shank Racing||Acura NSX GT3 Evo||320 laps|
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