DETROIT - The Heart of Racing drivers Ian James (Phoenix) and Mario Farnbacher (Germany) captured their second GTD class win of the season following Saturday's TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by the Detroit Metro Chevy Dealers race at Belle Isle Park.
James started fifth in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Porsche 911. He drove an uneventful first 30-minutes, of today's 100-minute race, before handing the car over to his teammate. On lap 19, James was in sixth place when he came to pit lane for tires, fuel and a driver change. The early pit strategy worked perfectly. One lap after Farnbacher took the wheel, the race went full course caution for debris on the track. At the time, the No. 23 Alex Job Racing-prepared Porsche was the only GTD class car to have pitted.
"We had a strategy before the race and we executed it," James said. "The yellow came at a perfect time and we had a nice advantage at the driver exchange. This is a complete team with our race management, pit stops and the whole approach."
This meant, when the race went yellow, all of the GTD teams still had to pit, and Farnbacher inherited the lead. From there, he laid continuous fast laps - opening a six second lead over the then second place GTD entry with fifteen minutes remaining. That's when the race's last full course caution came out because the No. 63 Ferrari made significant contact with the wall.
When the race went green, Farnbacher had a 15-second lead and that's when it started raining much harder. Driving the final laps very cautiously, Farnbacher held on for the team's second win and third podium of the season.
"It wasn't easy," Farnbacher said. "It was always raining and then dry. It was very slippery and it was a challenge to keep the car between the walls. The second to the last lap, it was raining in the first and last sectors of the track. I was able to take it a little easy as we had a 10-second gap to second place. After the checkered flag, I brushed the wall from aquaplaning.
"Detroit has been good to us. We had our first success here with a second place run last year. We put a Detroit sticker on the car for this weekend and we were able to win it. This is awesome for the team and for the championship. We are also proud to help the Seattle Children's Hospital."
"Mario did a great last stint," James said. "We had a little bit of luck today, but we also created some of our own. It was a great second win on the season."
"Lady Luck played into our hands today," Team Owner Alex Job said. "We followed our strategy to a T. The strategy was correct, luck backed it up and it really worked for us. Once we got to the lead, Mario did a great job keeping it up at the front. The weather played a role, Mario bounced the car off of the barrier at the end. This is a nice second win to go along with a podium in four races, so a good first quarter of the year."
After the break for Le Mans, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship returns action for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International June 26-28.