Farnbacher enjoying being back as Heart of Racing’s super sub

Mario Farnbacher isn’t exactly a substitute in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage Evo in GTD PRO – he’s raced the car twice this year as the endurance addition in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring — but this is his first time competing in an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship sprint for Heart of Racing, in his second stint with the team. Farnbacher is taking Alex Riberas’s place as Ross Gunn’s partner at Laguna Seca while Riberas competes in the World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Spa.

“It’s great. There’s a chance again to be in the paddock, be around the team,” said Farnbacher of the opportunity. “Obviously it’s still kind of new with the new car, new environment, also a little bit old environment because of the past. But thank thanks to Ian [James, team principal] and Heart of Racing for the trust in me, and also Ross for for letting me drive with him.”

Farnbacher hasn’t raced at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in a few years, but has a good history at the track – he won GTD with HoR and Riberas in 2016, then again with Meyer Shank Racing in 2020 with Matt McMurry as Farnbacher was on his way to his second GTD title in the Acura NSX.


He’s stepping into generally familiar territory, but there is a new challenge with a heavily revised racetrack.

“There’s obviously always a change, especially now here with the new asphalt and a track that’s going to be a new thing to experience, because we haven’t been testing here and a bunch of other teams did,” Farnbacher said. “We are starting from zero here, but it’s a different format – it’s not an endurance race, so you have to be a little bit quicker with everything. We are restricted on tires as well, so that’s another thing to keep in mind.”

New track conditions, but he knows the team. It might take a little bit of extra driver change practice to get the dance just right, but otherwise it’s like Farnbacher has been a part of Heart of Racing the whole time, and expects it to be a seamless transition in partnering with Gunn.

“We’ve been working together since Daytona and we knew each other before, but never as a teammate. We [always had] a little friendship going on. Even when I wasn’t part of the team, I always was kind of part of the team because of the past, the history. It was dinners with them sometimes, and just…being there. Obviously, now driving together…it’s been simpler.”

Farnbacher and Gunn ran fourth and seventh in GTD PRO through the two practice sessions for Sunday’s Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N, so the old-but-new pairing bodes well.

Story originally appeared on Racer