September 27, 2020 — LEXINGTON, Ohio
- Acura Team Penske wins the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio for the third consecutive year
- Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor score third consecutive overall win of 2020
- Contact ends GTD victory hopes for Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry; Meyer Shank Racing duo recover to finish fifth
Acura kept its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship winning streak alive Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves scored their third consecutive win of 2020; and Acura Team Penske won the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio for the third consecutive year.
In the production-based GTD category, the Meyer Shank Racing duo of Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry took over the class lead following the first exchange of pit stops in their Acura NSX GT3 Evo, but sustained damage from contact following a mid-race restart. After an unscheduled pit stop for repairs, the pair recovered to finish fifth and maintain their lead in the GTD championship.
Acura Team Penske
At the start, pole qualifier Dane Cameron took charge of the two-hour, 40-minute contest in the #6 Acura ARX-05, while outside front-row starter Castroneves struggled on the slippery outside line and dropped back to fourth.
In the #6 Acura, Cameron pulled out an intial lead of 6.5 seconds in the first stint, then handed off driving duties Montoya during the first full-course caution of the day. Resuming in the lead, Montoya briefly slipped off course while lapping GTD traffic, falling back to seventh. Going to an off-sequence pit strategy, Montoya would work his way back into the lead with just over an hour remaining, but surrendered the position to teammate Taylor in the #7 Acura in a strategy call. Additional issues in traffic saw Montoya fall off the lead lap, finishing seventh.
An excellent first pit stop helped Castroneves moved his #7 Acura into third as the race neared the one-hour mark, and he gained another position as then-leading Juan Pablo Montoya had a brief off-course excursion in his #6 Acura. Another excellent stop saw the #7 move ahead of the #31 Action Express Cadillac during the second round of stops as Taylor took over the driving duties. Once around the off-sequence #6 Acura, Taylor was in control of the race for the final run to the checkers. The win for Castroneves and Taylor is their third in a row this year, following victories at Road America in August and Road Atlanta earlier this month. The pair moved up to third in the DPi Drivers’ Championship, only five points out of first, with three races remaining. Acura moves up to second in the Manufacturers’ Championship, just a single point out of first.
Acura NSX GT3 Evo Teams
In the always competitive GTD division for production-based cars, fast pit work also benefitted the Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo, as second-running McMurry moved his #86 NSX into the lead at the first round of pit stops and would maintain his advantage throughout his stint.
A caution that that came out at exactly the wrong moment for the GTD cars, with just over an hour remaining, cost the #86 car the class lead with co-driver Farnbacher at the wheel. Following the restart, Farnbacher pulled alongside the McLaren of Paul Holton to pass, but
Holton made contact with Farnbacher no less than three times on the front straight, and the subsequent damage cut down the Acura’s right front tire, sending Farnbacher into the sandtrap at Turn 1 and limping around to the pits, dropping to ninth. Farnbacher eventually recovered to finish fifth, while Holton was given a stop-and-hold penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Combined with the GTD win at Road Atlanta three weeks ago and a trio of podium finishes earlier this season, Farnbacher and McMurry continue to hold an unofficial three-point the drivers’ title chase, with Acura a single point out of first in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Starting third, the #57 Heinricher Racing with MSR Acura of Alvaro Parente and Misha Goikhberg also had a strong opening half, running third until the final round of pit stops, but lost some pace in the final thirty minutes, and eventually yielded a position to their teammates in the #86 Acura to finish sixth.
Making their fourth start of the 2020 season, the #22 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GRT3 Evo of Marc Miller and Till Bechtolshiemer ran as high as fifth in the first hour with Bechtolshiemer at the controls. The duo appeared headed for a top-six finish until Miller spun entering the first turn, with the resulting pit stop leading to a ninth-place finish for the still-young operation.
The 2020 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval” [combined oval/road course], for the second of two GT class-only rounds in this year’s championship, October 9-10 in Charlotte, N.C.
Acura Motorsports Social media content and video links from this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge are available on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacing_HPD) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD). Produced by the CoForce Digital Media, the YouTube videos can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacing_HPDTV.
Ricky Taylor (#7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05) race winner, 3rd consecutive victory of 2020: “I’m just so proud of the job this team did today. Helio [Castroneves] started on the outside, and that can be difficult here, but he settled in and put us in position to pass the #31 on the pit stops. I felt like we were the strongest car on track, especially on new tires. Thanks to our teammates Dane [Cameron] and Juan [Pablo Montoya], they were super helpful all weekend long. It was a real team effort.”
Mario Farnbacher (#86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo) Finished fifth in GTD, continues to lead GTD Drivers’ Championship with co-driver Matt McMurry : “Matt [McMurry] had a great opening stint. We were close on fuel so it was a tough call on when to come in during that second stop. But, we were really tight on fuel so it was a tough call. I think that without that, we could have finished second or third which would have been really good points. We tried to recover after we had our front right tire destroyed from someone else. When I got back out on track, I think the car was pushed to the maximum and we really gave it our all. We’re hoping that Charlotte will be better.”
Ted Klaus (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s win at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid-Ohio: “Congratulations to everyone at Acura Team Penske for their third consecutive win at our ‘signature’ event, the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio. We wish all of our Ohio-based associates could’ve been here to witness it in person, but we’re grateful for everyone who was able to come here today, or watch from home. We all know that Meyer Shank Racing deserved a much better result at their own ‘home’ race as well, but their excellent recovery effort keeps us in the thick of the GTD title fight with the Ohio-made Acura NSX GT3 Evo.”
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Sports Car Challenge
Circuit: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2.258-mile road course) Lexington, Ohio
Weather: Sunny, windy, mild, 75 degrees F race start
Top 5 Prototype, Acura Results:
|Ps.||Drivers||Team||Chassis||Laps / Notes|
|1.||Helio Castroneves / Ricky Taylor||Acura Team Penske||Acura ARX-05||115 laps|
|2.||Felipe Nasr / Pipo Derani||Action Express||Cadillac DPi VR||+0.607 seconds|
|3.||Ryan Briscoe / Renger van der Zande||Wayne Taylor Racing||Cadillac DPi VR|
|4.||Jonathan Bomarito/ Harry Tincknell||Mazda Team Joest||Mazda RT24P|
|5.||Oliver Jarvis / Tristan Nunez||Mazda Team Joest||Mazda RT24P|
|7.||Juan Pablo Montoya / Dane Cameron||Acura Team Penske||Acura ARX-05||112|
Top 5 GTD, Acura Results:
|Ps.||Drivers||Team||Chassis||Laps / Notes|
|1.||Jack Hawksworth / Aaron Telitz||AIM Vasser-Sullivan||Lexus RC F GT3||108 laps|
|2.||Gar Robinson / Laswon Aschenbach||Riley Motorsports||Mercedes-AMG GT3||+0.858 seconds|
|3.||Pat Long / Ryan Hardwick||Wright Motorsports||Porsche 911 GT3R|
|4.||Roman De Angelis / Ian James||Heart of Racing||Aston Martin Vantage|
|5.||Mario Farnbacher / Matt McMurry||Meyer Shank Racing||Acura NSX GT3 EVO|
|6.||Alvaro Parente / Misha Goikhberg||Meyer Shank Racing||Acura NSX GT3 Evo|
|9.||Marc Miller / Till Bechtolsheimer||Gradient Racing||Acura NSX GT3 Evo||107 laps – running|