DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Heart of Racing drivers Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Ian James (Phoenix) , Alex Riberas (Spain), and Wolf Henzler (Germany) finished ninth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The Heart of Racing team looked poised to earn a hard-fought podium finish in the 54th Rolex 24, as the team looked strong through the first 20 hours. Henzler, James and Farnbacher had the brand new No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3R in the top five with about three and a half hours remaining.
On lap 579, the race was under caution. The team radioed James and told him to take the pass around, which he did. After he completed the pass around, James came to pit lane for a pit stop that included fuel, tires and a driver change. That's when Farnbacher got behind the wheel.
During that pit stop, the ratchet strap that held the damaged rear diffuser came loose and was dragging on the ground. This issue forced Farnbacher back to pit lane to remove the strap. The team removed it and sent him on his way. At worst, this would have put the No. 23 machine at the back of the GTD class lead lap. But, unfortunately, this was just the first of two issues for The Heart of Racing team was about to face.
At this point, IMSA levied a more than three minute penalty on the No. 23 Porsche for an improper pass around during the most recent caution. This penalty cost the team two laps and, for all intents and purposes, ended any hopes the team had to finish on the podium.
"It was just a miscommunication on whether we should go or not," James said regarding the pass around. "It's all spur of the moment. It happens very quickly and we got a penalty. We made the wrong choice. [At that point] we would have needed a couple of more yellows to get back in it."
"We drove by the safety car and, because of it, we got a penalty," Farnbacher said. "What's weird is a lot of cars did it and not all of them got penalized. But, we did - again. In my opinion, IMSA should penalize everybody who does something wrong.
"All of the other cars got faster so it was harder to drive fast. We had problems with our shocks. One of them failed in the front. We lost the diffuser because of a small incident on the restart during the night. So our car was a little bit damaged. We couldn't keep the pace like we did in the beginning."
Alex Riberas started his final double stint P10 and down two laps. But, this did not affect the young Spaniard, as he continued to push hard to make up any positions that were out there for the taking. In fact, Riberas drove hard to bring the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche home ninth.
"The 24 hours is a very tough race," Riberas said. "For the whole Alex Job Racing team, both cars it was a difficult finish. It was tough to understand. With four hours to go, with both cars, we had a chance to win the race. It went wrong for both teams. There are some things we could have done better, so we will review it, fix it and go onto Sebring with a good feeling. We scored some good points for the Tequila Patrón Endurance Cup."
"We finished ninth and that's certainly not what we'd expected," Henzler said. "At least the car finished and we scored points for the championship. I think we scored some points for the Patrón Endurance Championship.
"I feel really bad for the guys that we couldn't finish on the podium because I know how much Alex Job Racing put into this race and to get the car ready. I can only say, 'that's racing.' Thank you to Porsche for the help. Let's come back next year and do it again."
"The team was able to overcome some mechanical and mental issues," Alex Job, team owner, said. "Mario, Ian, Alex and Wolf all drove very strong stints. We had an issue with the shock and the diffuser and some misunderstanding with pass arounds. Twice. The team was able to lead some laps at night and that gives me a good feeling as we head to Sebring where we have won 10 times."
The Heart of Racing team completed 700 laps around the World Center of Racing. Thanks to the team's efforts, nearly $150,000 was raised to help the Seattle Children's Hospital and the pediatric cardiac unit.
"You know, there's lots of ways to win a race," said Don Kitch, Team Seattle representative. "The bottom line is we're going to take home $150,000 for the kids. That hospital, those doctors and nurses can do a lot for those kids with $150,000. So, at the end of the day, we made a gallant effort. We were right there to the end. [We had] a couple of mistakes. But, I look at it as a win - $150,000 for the kids at the hospital. At the end of the day, that's the most important thing. There was one [pit] stop that was worth $6,000. We pitted in ninth and launched in third, that's six places at $1,000 per place. That's $6,000 the Cardiac Crew brought to the table. We're going to do this all season long."
The Heart of Racing accepts donations and pledges for Seattle Children's Hospital at teamseattle.com.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will travel to Sebring, Florida for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, March 16-19.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD (GT Daytona) Class is made up of some the world's most sophisticated cars, including the Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ferrari 488, Lamborghini Huracan, Aston Martin, BMW M6, Viper SRT and Audi R8. All GTD Class cars run on the spec Continental tire.
The Heart of Racing
Founded in 1996, by Don and Donna Kitch, Team Seattle and The Heart of Racing is a group of sports car road racing fans, drivers, and corporate partners making a difference in our community by combining two passions: A love of motorsports and a commitment to Seattle Children's Hospital and pediatric cardiac health care nationally. The team uses the promotion and exposure of the racing program to fund raise and increase awareness of the financial needs for quality pediatric medical care. Since inception, Team Seattle has generated over $5.5 million for their cause. The Heart of Racing accepts donations and pledges for Seattle Children's Hospital at teamseattle.com.
Alex Job Racing
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 70 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won five championships (GTC 2013, 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts ten Sebring 12-hour wins.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD (GT Daytona) Class is made up of some the world's most sophisticated cars, including the Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracan, Aston Martin DB9, BMW M6, Viper SRT and Audi R8 LMS. All GTD Class cars run on the spec Continental tire.