DETROIT - The Heart of Racing drivers Ian James (Phoenix) and Mario Farnbacher (Germany) will start fifth in the GTD class of Saturday's TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by the Detroit Metro Chevy Dealers race at Belle Isle.
James was behind the wheel of the No. 23 Heart of Racing Porsche 911during Friday's 15-minute GTD qualifying session and turned the fifth quickest lap with a 1:34.821 (89.221 mph). Interestingly, the car actually went faster during this morning's practice session when it recorded the third fastest time with a 1:33.361 (90.616 mph).
After the first practice, the crew made some necessary changes to the No. 23 machine. Unfortunately, the skies opened up and the rain came down, essentially washing out the second practice session - though the No. 23 Alex Job Racing-prepared Porsche was still second quickest in that session.
The early afternoon rain significantly affected the track conditions for the late afternoon GTD qualifying rendering some of those car changes moot. Still, James and Farnbacher will start from the third row in Saturday's 100-minute race.
"It [qualifying] was pretty uneventful to be honest," James said. "We made quite a few changes after the first session. Unfortunately, the second session was rained out. But, the car was good. We probably missed the tires pressures a little bit because the car was getting faster every lap. And, then we had a red flag [which ended qualifying three minutes early]. We didn't quite time it right. We're pretty close to the quickest Porsche. We are two tenths behind. We can do well from where we are, I think.
"Last year, we [James and Farnbacher] started eighth and ended up second. It's critical to have a good start, stay off the walls, and have a super quick pit stop. It's only 100 minutes. So things happen fast here."
Farnbacher is optimistic for the race.
"It was a funny day," he said. "In the first free practice the car was pretty good. We ran second on the time sheet. You can always improve the car, so we made some changes for the second practice and it rained. Qualifying was up next and Ian did a great job to put us up in fifth. We will make some changes for the warm-up and then see if the rain holds off for the race. Either way we will be ready."
Alex Job, team owner, had the team navigating a crazy day.
"We went out for the first session and we had to dust the new surface off as we were the first cars out for the weekend," Job said. "We came out with a list of car changes and then in the second session it rained. Qualifying was up next and you just hope you hit it right. Ian did a good job to get us up to fifth. We have to plan for the potential of rain tomorrow, so it will be an interesting 100-minutes of racing."
The race will be televised live from noon to 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday on FOX Sports 2. It will be replayed on FOX Sports 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. (ET).