Acura, McMurray and Farnbacher Claim Championship leads at VIR

Acura, McMurray and Farnbacher Claim Championship leads at VIR

23.08.2020: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Michelin GT Challenge at VIR Circuit: Virginia International Raceway (3.27-mile road course) Alton, Va. Weather: Overcast, humid, 84 degrees F

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Michelin GT Challenge at VIR
Circuit: Virginia International Raceway (3.27-mile road course) Alton, Va.
Weather: Overcast, humid, 84 degrees F

    Matt McMurray, Mario Farnbacher finish second in VIRginia International Raceway thriller

    Acura claims Manufacturers' Championship lead

    Misha Goikhberg, Alvaro Parente run seventh in #57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo

The #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Matt McMurry and Mario Farnbacher shone at VIRginia International Raceway at the Michelin GT Challenge, finishing second in an exciting battle for GTD class honors.

The first of two GT-only rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, VIR showcased a thriller that saw the #86 Acura claim the second step on the podium and take the leads in the Drivers', Teams' and Manufacturers"championships along the way.  Following today's race, Acura takes over the 10-manufacturer GTD division lead with 121 points to 120 for Lexus and 113 for BMW.  In the battle for the GTD drivers'title, Farnbacher and McMurry leave VIR with 115 points, to 113 for Jack Hawksworth and Arron Telitz with 110.

McMurray stuck his NSX GT3 Evo on the second row of the grid in qualifying, and moved from fourth to second on the first lap of the race. The yellow flag flew at the end of lap one, marking the first of three cautions that disrupted the opening 30 laps of the two hour, 40-minute endurance contest.

Still in second with 57 minutes to go, McMurray handed the #86 Acura over to co-driver Mario Farnbacher. The German driver quickly cycled through to second place during the ensuing pitstops, before locking up the brakes while going for the lead in the first turn, and falling back to fourth after a brief off-course excursion.

Farnbacher recovered spectacularly, setting the fastest lap of the race and passing the #74 Mercedes-AMG of Lawson Aschenbach for third, and then reeling in the second place #48 Lamborghini of Bryan Sellers in the final 10 minutes of the event. Farnbacher utilized GTLM traffic as a "pick" to make a successful move on Sellers and secure second place on the final lap.

The sister #57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo from Heinricher Racing with MSR Curb-Agajanian started eighth on the grid and battled hard through a hectic race to finish seventh at the line. Misha Goikhberg tackled the first one hour and forty minutes before Alvaro Parente brought the #57 home seventh following a competitive battle with Pat Long's #16 Porsche and #44 Lamborghini of Andy Lally in the final hour.

Though Gradient Racing struggled early in the race, they recovered to get valuable track time and prepare for the next round of the GTD Sprint Cup Championship [for shorter races on the schedule]. Starting ninth in the hands of Till Bechtolsheimer, the #22 Acura found the wall early in the race, but lost only two laps for repairs and returning to the track. Both Bechtolsheimer and co-driver Marc Miller kept pace with the field, despite their wounded car, turning useful laps and collecting data.

The Meyer Shank racing team will next be in action September 4-6 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for the Michelin Endurance Challenge Weekend–the event that has replaced the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen on the schedule. Contesting only the Sprint Cup, Gradient Racing will return to competition September 25-26 at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.

- Honda North America also photos


23.08.2020 / MaP

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