Heartbreak for Mario in Texas

The eleventh round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, ended in bitter disappointment for Mario Farnbacher. A strong showing throughout the race by the 24-year-old German and his Spanish teammate Alex Riberas came to nothing with the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R running out of fuel on the final lap while in second position and ultimately finishing seventh. 

Farnbacher and Riberas had been in high spirits going into the Lone Star Le Mans race, having secured pole position in the GTD class in qualifying yesterday. Riberas took the green-flag stint and kept his cool in the scorching Texan heat during a frantic first lap. However, a couple of full-course yellows and a problem with the wheel gun at the first tyre change saw the #23 Porsche fall back to second after the first round of stops.

Nevertheless, the Spaniard evidently wasn’t fazed and soon retook the lead, eking out a 10-second advantage before handing over the car to his German teammate with just over an hour of the race to go. “Alex came out fighting at the start of the race and was super quick,” Farnbacher said. “But the new tyres saw the set up go away from us a little. The car began to understeer and was more difficult to handle.”

A problem with a sticking wheel at the second pit stop cost team and driver valuable seconds in the pit lane and relegated the Porsche to second place on the track. “I came out of the stop behind the BMW but I was unable to take the advantage of the new tyres and push past on the first few laps of my stint,” Farnbacher added. Despite the issues with understeer, the man from Lichtenau fought admirably, defending second position against the hard-charging Bryan Sellers and Alessandro Balzan in third and fourth.

A solid second-place finish looked to be on the cards, but the final-lap fuel drama put paid to any chance of a podium and saw Farnbacher and Riberas classified in seventh position. The Alex Job Racing driver pairing will be looking to put the disappointment of Austin behind them as the IMSA  Sportscar Championship travels to Road Atlanta for the final race in the 2016 season, Petit Le Mans, on 1 October.

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