BRASELTON, Ga., - The Heart of Racing team closed out the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship season by finishing ninth in the 10-hour endurance classic Petit Le Mans tonight.
Under near perfect weather conditions throughout the day, 80-degrees and sunny, to the cool temperatures of 65 in the evening. Drivers Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Alex Riberas (Spain) and Ian James (Phoenix, Ariz.) spent most of the first seven hours of racing in the top three and leading several times throughout the afternoon in the GTD Class. At 3:20 p.m. an extended caution period came out while the Road Atlanta crew made track surface repairs to Turn 3. At 6:35 p.m. Farnbacher was running in third and reported an issue with the steering. He came to the pits and the Cardiac Crew found a severed bolt on the control arm at the subframe. The fix took the team nearly 30-minutes sending The Heart of Racing Porsche 20 laps down to the GTD leader and sealing the teams fate for a ninth place finish in GTD.
"It is too bad what happened with the bolt," Farnbacher said. "Seventy-five percent of the race we were in the top three and fighting for the lead. I felt that there was something wrong with the steering, had to pit and it took 30-minutes to fix. That is too bad for the team. We worked very hard this week and we had too good of a car not to get a result."
"It is always tough when you run so good for most of the race and then have a small part fail," Riberas said. "We worked with the team all race to get the handling just right and then we had the problem. We had a good year, with four pole positions and a win. We also missed some opportunities."
"We had a great first three-quarters of the race, it was textbook," James said. "We had a part failure and that was it. It is so close in GTD you have to run flat-out every lap to win. It is frustrating. I am proud of the team and thank Gabe Newell for giving us this opportunity this year."
"Mario, Alex and Ian drove their hearts out today," Team Owner Alex Job said. "Through the first three-quarters of the race we were running in the top three and took several turns leading the race. The team worked hard fine-tuning the car for the conditions and we were looking strong. The issue with the bolt on the subframe is a new one on me. It was a tough last quarter of the race, it would have been nice to get a good result in the final race of the season. I want to thank Gabe Newell and his commitment to The Heart of Racing team all season. It would not have been possible without him. "
The highlight of the season was the team's win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. In addition, the team drove to four pole positions at the Circuit of the Americas, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen.
The WeatherTech Sports Car Championship will resume at Daytona International Speedway with the traditional Roar Before the 24 to take place January 6-8, 2017.
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.